Google Says Government Content Removal Requests Rise 26%

Google Inc. said requests to remove content climbed 26 percent during the second half of 2012 as governments tried to clamp down on videos, search results and other information online.

The requests, which include court orders, covered 24,179 pieces of content, up 34 percent from the first half of 2012, Google said in a blog post today. There were a total of 2,285 government requests during the second half, up from 1,811 in the previous period, the company said.

Google, which has a sprawling collection of online properties in search, video and mobile, faces growing pressure to take down content that often runs afoul of governments. Many of the requests during the second half last year were for removing blog posts critical of government officials, or their associates, the Mountain View, California-based company said.

“The information we share on the Transparency Report is just a sliver of what happens on the Internet,” the company said in a blog posting. “But as we disclose more data and continue to expand it over time, we hope it helps draw attention to the laws around the world that govern the free flow of information online.”

The increase was driven in part by Brazil, which ranked No. 1 during the period amid municipal elections in the country. Many requests were related to alleged violations of Brazilian electoral rules that forbid defamation and commentary that offends candidates, Google said. The country made 697 requests to remove content, up from 191 in the first half of 2012.

Russia also boosted requests after enacting a law that’s designed to help children and lets the government remove content deemed harmful.

YouTube videos containing clips of the movie “Innocence of Muslims” prompted inquiries from 20 countries, the company said. Google restricted the video in some countries last year after it depicted the Prophet Muhammad in ways that offended some Muslims, triggering complaints.

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