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Google Reports 70 Percent Increase in Takedown Requests by US Government

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Ralph Orlowski, Getty Images

In an effort to highlight global censorship campaigns, Google’s biannual transparency report revealed a 70 percent increase in takedown requests by the US government and law enforcement agencies.

New figures showed that Google faced demands from US law enforcement agencies earlier this year to take down YouTube videos allegedly showing incidents of police brutality. The report indicated that Google refused those demands, as well as other demands to remove videos that allegedly defamed police officers.

These new figures also revealed that the US demanded private information about more than 11,000 Google users in the first six months of this year, which is nearly equal to the number of requests made by 25 other developed countries, including the UK and Russia.

In addition, the report disclosed information requests for about 25,440 people by governments worldwide in the first half of 2011 alone, with 11,057 of those people being in the US; and a ranking of the number of takedown requests by country, with Brazil topping the list that includes Germany, the US and South Korea.

This marks the first time that Google has made public details about how many of its users are targeted by authorities, as opposed to just the number of requests made by countries.

Senior policy analyst at Google, Dorothy Chou said, “We believe that providing this level of detail highlights the need to modernize laws like the Eletronic Communications Privacy Act, which regulates government access to user information and was written 25 years ago – long before the average person had ever heard of email.”

Google is scheduled to release another transparency report after data from the second half of 2011 has been collected.


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