Google: US government takedown requests up 70 percent

U.S. government requests to remove online content has increased 70 percent since last year, Google said in a blog post Thursday, announcing its most recent Transparency Report.

According to report, which covers the first half of 2013, U.S. law enforcement agencies and courts asked Google to remove content 545 times. Google said it complied with 55 percent of those requests.

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The number of U.S. government requests are up 70 percent from the second half of 2012, during which agencies and courts issued removal requests 321 times, the report said.

The government requests for removal span Google’s products, including YouTube, Google Plus, Web Search, the search feature Autocomplete and Google’s application platform, Google Play.

The reasons for removal include national security concerns, privacy and security concerns and allegations of defamation and trademark infringement.

The report noted that Google “received 27 requests from a federal government agency to suspend 89 apps from the Google Play store that allegedly infringed its trademark rights.”

“After reviewing the apps in question with respect to those trademarks, we removed 76 apps,” the report said.

Government takedown requests are up across the world, Google Legal Director Susan Infantino wrote in the Thursday blog post.

“One worrying trend has remained consistent: governments continue to ask us to remove political content,” Infantino wrote.

She highlighted increased government requests for in Russia and Turkey.

A majority of the Turkish government’s 1,673 requests, the post said, were to take down content that allegedly violates a law that limits Internet speech.

“Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes,” Infantino wrote about global takedown requests.

“These officials often cite defamation, privacy and even copyright laws in attempts to remove political speech from our services.”