The number of takedown orders received by Google from authorities based in the United States rose dramatically over the past year, with demands to remove information, including videos containing “government criticism,” increasing by 70 per cent.
“In the US, Google received 757 takedown requests across its sites and services, up 70 per cent from the second half of last year,” reports technology website V3.co.uk.
“US authorities also called for the removal of 113 videos from YouTube, including several documenting alleged police brutality which Google refused to take down.”
The figures are revealed in Google’s newly released transparency report, which also details how the number of “user data requests” by US authorities increased by 29 per cent compared to the last reporting period.
The reason listed for the removal of a You Tube video in one instance is “government criticism”. The exact identity or content of the video is not divulged. The report states that the removal requests pertaining to “police brutality” were done on the grounds of “defamation” and are included in that separate category, meaning the takedown order on the grounds of “government criticism” was made by the “executive,” ie the federal government.
The report does not indicate whether or not You Tube complied with the removal request, but it did comply with 63 per cent of the total requests made.
The number of “Items requested to be removed” by US authorities was almost seven-fold the number requested to be removed by Chinese authorities, a country much maligned for its Internet censorship policies.
As we have previously documented, Google-owned You Tube has complied with thousands of requests worldwide to remove political protest videos that are clearly not in violation of any copyright or national security interests and do not constitute defamation.
One such example was You Tube’s compliance with a request from the British government to censor footage of the British Constitution Group’s Lawful Rebellion protest, during which they attempted to civilly arrest Judge Michael Peake at Birkenhead county court.
When viewers in the UK attempted to watch videos of the protest, they were met with the message, “This content is not available in your country due to a government removal request.”
Indeed, the latest figures show that takedown requests on behalf of British authorities have also skyrocketed by 71 per cent, including 44 removal orders in the first half of this year which came directly from the UK government, one of which was the Birkenhead protest footage.
In Britain, a total of 135 videos were removed from You Tube on the grounds of “national security” and 43 web search results were also blacklisted by government decree.
These figures illustrate how governments, particularly the United States and Britain, are getting more aggressive in pushing for web censorship as the state increasingly tries to strangle the last bastion of true free speech, the Internet, as authorities simultaneously try to advance draconian cybersecurity measures that would hand them complete control over the world wide web.