Since Google is the biggest search provider in the world, the site must wade through many different results, including those which may be illegal or otherwise law-breaking.
Google actually does allow its users to request the removal of what they feel is unsuitable for the site by using an online tool. Governments and users can both request URL takedowns, where the site will remove URLs from its search results if what the site is doing warrants such a response.
Sites are often flagged for takedown by the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), and Google complies with requests made through this act. Most sites comply since it protects their reputation, but there are others which refuse to comply with the act. One obvious example is The Pirate Bay, which refuses to remove anything.
Using Google a few years ago, you could have found torrents for anything and everything. Pirate Bay links were among the top search results, and then there were plenty of other sites offering more trackers and such for your illegitimate needs. Anyone could hop into the pirate ship by using Google's results.
An increase over 1000% is definitely something to write about, but the image below sums it up much more succinctly.
Google is receiving over a million requests for result removals a week. The past month has looked like this, in terms of those contacting the company:
- 1,825 copyright owners
- 1,406 anti-piracy reporting organizations
- 5,733,402 URLs
- 32,545 domains
That's downright insane for a single month, and it could well continue to increase. Google's Transparency Report was published earlier this year, but since its publication, figures have rocketed. Perhaps the groups doing the reporting have gotten wise to the results, so waited until they couldn't be impacted by their requests?
Some of the takedown requests are hilarious, such as the woman requesting a picture removed because it showed her height and weight, despite being unrelated to her otherwise. This is one example of when Google did not take something down upon request.
The increasing demand for DMCA-style takedowns could be explained by the company's new piracy penalty, but it might also indicate a changing trend among governments using the internet. Some countries take a dim view of certain topics. Way back in 2007, Neowin reported on Thailand's attempt to sue YouTube over an insult targeted at the royal family, so strange happenings are aplenty.