Google: Government requests to remove political content on the rise

"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," Infantino writes in the blog post about the latest version of its "Transparency Report."

"In this particular time period, we received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates," Infantino added.

In particular, Google received inquiries from 20 countries about YouTube videos that included clips of the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" movie trailer that sparked controversy last fall. The Web video did not run afoul of YouTube's "Community Guidelines," but Google said it blocked it from view in several countries "in accordance with local law after receiving formal legal complaints." 

Google also temporarily restricted the video clip in Egypt and Libya. The report noted that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh blocked YouTube for periods of time over the anti-Islam film trailer.

The search company observed a notable increase in removal requests from Brazil and Russia during the second half of last year. The search company attributes this rise, in large part, to the municipal elections that took place in Brazil last fall and the rollout of a controversial new Russian Internet law.

Nearly half of the 697 requests Google received from Brazil called for the company to remove 756 pieces of content that allegedly violated a Brazilian law that bars "defamation and commentary that offends candidates." The search company said it's in the process of appealing several of these cases because the content is protected by freedom of expression under the country's Constitution.

By comparison, Google received 191 Brazilian government requests to remove content during the first half of 2012.

Meanwhile, Google believes the increase in requests from Russia is due to the introduction of a controversial new Internet law. The BBC reported that the law allows the government to take down websites that are allegedly harmful to children.

Russian authorities submitted just six content removal requests to Google during the first half of 2012. That rose to 114 requests in the second half of the year, with 107 of those requests citing the new Internet law, according to Google.