UK requests for Google content removal rocket 71% in first half of 2011


UK requests for Google content removal rocket 71% in first half of 2011

Warwick Ashford

The number of content removal requests Google received from the UK from January to June 2011 was up 71% compared with the previous six months, according to the group's Transparency Report.

The rise in UK content removal requests outpaced many other European countries, with 65 requests for a total of 333 items to be removed, according to the BBC.

In the same period, Germany made 118 requests, up 6% over the previous period; France made nine requests, a 61% fall; and the US made 92 requests, constituting a 70% rise.

The report also revealed a small rise in the number of attempts to access user data by British authorities. Police and intelligence agencies made 1,273 requests in the first half of the year, up 9.5% from the previous period.

Google says it ensures there is a case for removal and therefore does not comply with every request. Google said it complied partially or fully with 82% of requests made in the UK in the first half of the year.

Of the UK requests granted, six related to more than 100 videos on Google's YouTube site that raised national security concerns and 12 were court orders linked to defamation, privacy and other legal issues.

The UK government takes the threat of online extremist or hate content very seriously, said a Home Office spokesman.

"Where unlawful content is hosted in the United Kingdom, the police have the power to seek its removal and where hosted overseas, we work closely with our international partners to effect its removal," he said.

All too often, policy that affects how information flows on the internet is created in the absence of empirical data, said Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst at Google.

"But by showing traffic patterns and disruptions to our services, and by sharing how many government requests for content removal and user data we receive from around the world, we hope to offer up some metrics to contribute to a public conversation about the laws that influence how people communicate online," Dorothy Chou wrote in a blog post.

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