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India no. 3 in requesting Google blocks

world Updated: Apr 22, 2010 01:15 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

India is among the top three countries in terms of requests from government agencies to Google for removal of content from the Internet giant’s various services including YouTube and Orkut. The top two countries are Brazil and Germany.

In its list of Government Requests that Google released on Tuesday, it did not list requests emanating from China, with which it had an eyeball-to-eyeball encounter earlier this year over censorship.

In an explanatory note, Google said, “Chinese officials consider censorship demands as state secrets, so we cannot disclose that information at this time.”

India also ranks high in terms of data requests, coming in fourth after Brazil, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Removal requests relate to governments seeking deletion of content while data requests are linked to asking for information about user accounts in Google or its products.

Google officials told HT in Delhi that only a small portion of the requests in India pertained to deletion of information, which can also be sought for criminal investigation or prosecution. The information sought in India include details on impersonation, defamatory content or disclosure of personal information that leads to harassment, a Google spokesperson said Hate speech against political personalities and celebrities and adult and obscene content can also be covered under this category.

“We are unable to talk about specific cases,” he said.

Google also said that 77.5 per cent of the removal requests had been “fully or partially complied with.” Of the requests, the largest number, at 119, pertained to Orkut, the social networking site that is popular in both India and Brazil. Fifteen of the requests related to YouTube, while the rest were spread over various other Google properties like Blogger and web search.

In a brief allusion to India, Google said, “For Brazil and India, government requests for content removal are high relative to other countries in part because of the popularity of our social networking website, Orkut.

In an official post on Google’s blog, its Senior Vice-President for Corporate Development and Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, said, “Whenever we can, we notify users about requests that may affect them personally. If we remove content in search results, we display a message to users. The numbers we are sharing today take this transparency a step further and reflect the number of requests we have received broken down by jurisdiction.”

(With inputs from HT Business Desk, New Delhi)