Google releases censorship data

Google received more than 1,000 government requests to take down controversial material in the second half of 2011, according to data the company released late Sunday night.


Google began releasing biannual transparency reports in 2010 on the requests it receives to delete material from its search listings, YouTube and other services.

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The latest report shows that Google received more than 467 court orders to take down more than 7,000 items in the second half of last year. The company said it complied with about 65 percent of the court orders.

Google also received more than 561 informal requests, such as calls from police officers, to take down more than 4,979 items. It complied with 47 percent of the informal requests.

The figures do not include countries such as China that block Web content without contacting Google.

The report also excludes claims of copyright infringement, which Google tallies separately.

In a blog post, Dorothy Chou, a senior policy analyst for Google, said the company continues to receive requests to take down political content.

"It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — Western democracies not typically associated with censorship," she said.

In the United States, Google received 117 court orders and 70 informal requests to take down material.

In one incident, a local police agency asked Google to delete 1,400 YouTube videos for alleged harassment. Google did not comply with the request. In another incident, a court ordered Google to remove 218 search results that linked to allegedly defamatory websites. The company said it removed 25 percent of the results.