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Google reports record number of government requests to remove political content

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

April 25, 2013 | 3 min read

Google has reported a record number of requests from governments around the world to move political content from its services.

Requests: Google said governments asked for content removal

In the second half of 2012, requests had gone up to 26 per cent compared to the first six months of the year, which Google had already described as "troubling" when the company reported an alarming rise in cases.

The company was asked to remove 24,179 items of content after 2,285 government requests, including requests to remove material from YouTube, erase blog posts and exclude items from its search facility. The number represented an increase of 1,811 on the beginning of the year.

Google said in a blog post: "As we've gathered and released more data over time, it's become increasingly clear that the scope of government attempts to censor content on Google services has grown.

"In more places than ever, we've been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services."

The web giant noted significant increases in requests from Brazil, which served Google with 640 court orders during the period, an average of 3.5 each day; and Russia, which saw a jump from six requests in the first half of 2012 to 114 in the second half, said to be the result of new legislation in the country.

Google said it had received inquiries from 20 countries over the YouTube video "Innocence of Muslims" and admitted it had temporarily restricted videos during the period in Egypt and Libya due to "the particularly difficult circumstances there".

In the UK, some Facebook users have raised concerns that spam procedures on Facebook are leaving the social network open to political censorship abuses.

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