Google: Censor Requests Surging—Even From West
It sees 'alarming rise' in governments trying to stifle political speech
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2012 4:27 AM CDT
Updated Jun 18, 2012 7:42 AM CDT
Chinese security guards stand near the Google logo at the company's former head office in Beijing, China.    (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

(Newser) – Google says it is seeing an alarming rise in government censor requests—often from "Western democracies not typically associated with censorship." In its latest biannual report, the company says it received a total of 1,007 such requests from governments around the world and complied with just over half of them, reports the Wall Street Journal. It says it received 461 court orders demanding the removal of items including YouTube videos, and received 546 other requests, including those from the police. The figures do not include censorship in countries like China and Iran, which block Google content directly.

In Poland, Google received a request from a government agency to remove search results linking to an article that criticized it; in Canada, authorities asked Google to remove a YouTube video of a citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down a toilet. Neither request was complied with. "It's really troubling because there's a lot of instances of political speech that governments are asking us to remove, which we find really alarming," says a senior policy analyst at Google. "It's a consistent problem. It's getting to be countries that we really don't expect."

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