In the last six months of 2011, Google has received almost 12,000 items requests from government authorities to remove political content from its search index. According to them, they were alarmed by government requests, fearing that this may place free expression at risk.
Google’s Senior Policy Analyst, Dorothy Chou, revealed that the requests received aren’t always from the usual suspects either. There are Western democracies not typically associated with censorship who were found participating in the requested removal of political content.
During its twice-yearly Transparency Report, which is done every six months and contains in part information about government requests to remove content or access private user data, the world's largest web search engine released data for the period of July to December 2011, showing that there were a total of 467 court orders and 561 other requests (by executives, police, etc.) to remove almost 12,000 pieces of content from their search index, about a quarter more than during the first half of last year.
Chou said, "Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different."
"We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not."
In addition, there were over 18,000 requests sent by governments for access to the personal data of 28,562 users worldwide. There are also some cases, such as those user data requests by the governments of Russia and Turkey, where Google refused to comply with a single request.
However, with regards to the United States and Brazil, Google’s compliance with user data requests is said to have exceeded 90 percent.
In the second half of last year, Google said it had complied with around 65 percent of court orders and 47 percent of informal requests to remove content.
Leading all countries once again in the number of user data requests is the United States, as they did in the first half of 2011.