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Google: Increase in government censorship requests is "troubling"

In May, Google announced that it was adding a new page on its Transparency Report site called Copyright Removal Requests. The page showed which companies were asking Google to remove search results for certain websites. As we reported, Microsoft had the most requests to remove websites from Google's search engine, mostly due to alleged piracy content violations.

However, Google has been seeing an increase in requests from another source: governments. In a new blog post on its Public Policy page, Google said that many times, governments have asked Google to remove websites from their results that may have different political views.

Google calls this rise in these kinds of requests "troubling" and added, "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."

Google gave a couple of examples of these kinds of requests. One of them involved Spanish regulators who asked Google to remove search results "referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors." A public organization based in Poland also asked Google to remove links to a website that was critical of their group. Google said it declined both of these requests.

Governments also ask Google to remove sites from its search results due to court orders. The blog states, "For the six months of data we’re releasing today, we complied with an average of 65 (percent) of court orders, as opposed to 47 (percent) of more informal requests."

Source: Google Public Policy blog

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