Growing demand by governments, including India, to remove videos on YouTube and postings on blogs from the search engine has worried Google, which has said the matter is critical for the internet giant.
Between July and December 2012, Google received 2,540 requests from the Indian government and courts to remove content from Google products, such as blog posts or YouTube videos.
The number of such requests were 90% higher than those sent out in the previous six months, mirroring growing unease among authorities of what they view as objectionable content.
For instance, a city cyber crime investigation cell asked Google to remove current depictions of disputed Jammu and Kashmir borders in five Google Maps domains other than maps.google.co.in.
“We did not change our depiction of the borders in response to this request,” Google’s legal director Susan Infantino said in the company’s official blog.
Likewise, last year when the people from India’s Northeast region started fleeing Bangalore fearing racial attacks, Google received five requests from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team, a Indian government promoted cyber cop.
It had asked the internet search company to remove content from Google+, a Blogger blog, 64 YouTube videos, and 1,759 comments associated with some YouTube videos citing laws covering disruption of public order or ethnic offence laws. “In response to these requests, we removed one video for violating our YouTube Community Guidelines. We also restricted 47 Youtube Videos from local view, in addition to removing 12 YouTube comments and disabling local access to three Blogger blog posts that violated local laws,” said Infantino.
Google also received a court order addressed to another party to remove 247 search results for linking to websites that allegedly violated an individual’s privacy.
“We did not remove the search results because we were unable to determine their relationship to the court order. We requested clarification but did not receive a reply,” Infantino said.
Communication minister Kapil Sibal last year had held two meetings with the top executives of Google and Facebook to censor contents that is defamatory and violates an individual or country’s reputation.
Google had launched its first Transparency Report in 2010 to provide hard evidence of how laws and policies affect access to information online. Over the past four years, the official blog says, one worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content.