Google complies with 89% of UK government content removal requests

Google said it complied with more than 89% of the content removal requests it received from the UK government in the second half of last year.

Google said it complied with more than 89% of the content removal requests it received from the UK government in the second half of last year.

British authorities asked Google to remove content 38 times, including one request by the Office of Fair Trading for the removal of a total of 93,000 items that linked to scams on adverts, according to the company's transparency report.

Some content removals were requested due to allegations of defamation, while others were because of allegations that the content violated local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography, said the company.

Around two items were removed from its Street View site in the UK by order of police bodies on privacy grounds, while 40 items from YouTube were removed on grounds relating to privacy and security and hate speeches. Other content removals included web searches, images, videos and blogger content, which were taken down on court orders relating to defamation and privacy between July and December last year.

"We have created Government Requests to show the number of government enquiries for information about users and requests to remove content from our services. We hope this step towards greater transparency will help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests," said the company in a statement.

However, information was not available on requests made in China. "Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, so we cannot disclose any information about content removal requests for the two reporting periods from July 2009 to June 2010," said the search giant.

Matt Braithwaite, transparency engineering at Google, said in a blog post the company's joint goals were to provide users with access to information and to protect their privacy.

"Whenever we receive a request, we first check to make sure it meets both the letter and spirit of the law before complying. When possible, we notify affected users about requests for user data that may affect them. And, if we believe a request is overly broad, we will seek to narrow it," he said.

This is the first time the company has revealed the percentage of user data requests. This gives you a better idea of how we have dealt with the requests we receive from government agencies - such as local and federal police - for data about users of our services and products, added Braithwaite.

Google's bid to prove its commitment to transparency comes as the company is currently being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission as to whether it abuses its position in search dominance to steer users to its own sites and services.

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