There has been an alarming rise in the number of times governments attempted to censor the internet in the last six months, according to a report from Google.
Since the search engine last published its bi-annual transparency report, it said it had seen a troubling increase in requests to remove political content. Many of these requests came from western democracies not typically associated with censorship.
“This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. Just like every other time, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”
Over the six months covered by the latest report, Google complied with an average of 65% of court orders, as opposed to 47% of more informal requests. Last month Google announced it was receiving more than one million requests a month from copyright owners seeking to pull their content from the company's search results.
Fred von Lohmann, Google’s senior copyright counsel, said copyright infringement was the main reason Google had removed links from search terms. He said the company had received a total of 3.3m requests for removals on copyright grounds last year, and was on course to quadruple that number this year. The company complied with 97% of requests.