Governments, Google and censorship
The information revolution, which the internet has enabled, has made life more complicated for law-makers. Issues of copyright infringement, impersonation, defamation, sedition and freedom of speech and expression have all come under the scanner with renewed vigour as people find new and innovative ways to use the internet to express themselves, share content (legally and illegally), bully others and attract advertisers’ interest in their websites. Google’s Transparency Report 2012, coming from arguably the most diversified internet company, is thus an interesting compilation of all the requests for removal of content and for user information by countries and courts worldwide. An analysis of the report provides an insight into what different countries feel is worth removing from the internet, which agencies are the most active in such requests (government agencies vs courts), etc.
The salient point that emerges from the report is that, worldwide, the number of requests to remove content from Google has increased to 1,791 in the first half of 2012 from 949 the same period the previous year. In keeping with this trend, the number of requests for user data has increased to 20,938 in the first half of 2012 from 15,744 a year earlier. Now, it would be easy to instantly condemn governments and courts for this, arguing that they are increasingly playing Big Brother. But further examination of the
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