Google Rejects Most Gov't Censorship Requests

Dennis Faas's picture

Google has revealed that last year it refused to comply with most US government requests to remove controversial content from its websites.

The company also discussed its behavior in removing terrorism videos and its response to a particularly unusual request from the Canadian government.

Google explored these issues in its latest Transparency Report, which provides information about private and public requests that Google receives to censor specific Internet content.

According to the report, between July and December 2011 Google received US court orders to take down a total of 3,851 items. The report also shows that the US requested Google remove an additional 2,341 items.

Both figures were higher than similar requests in any other country, though that isn't really surprising given that the company is based in the US and the US is so much larger than most other national markets.

Google Ignored 60% of US Court Orders

The more surprising statistic is that the search giant complied with only 40 per cent of the court orders, and only 44 per cent of the agency requests, it received. This suggests the majority of demands may not have been compelling, or even legal.

It appears these refusals aren't simply a case of Google ignoring lawful orders or demands. For example, in response to one court order Google removed just 25 per cent of the specified content.

Across the world as a whole, Google complied with 65 per cent of the censoring court orders it received, but with only 47 per cent of similarly intentioned government requests. (Source:

600+ Clips Taken Down Over Terror Concerns

According to the report, police in the United Kingdom asked Google for the removal of five YouTube accounts said to be promoting terrorism.

Google agreed in all five cases, deleting a total of 640 videos.

Google's report also revealed that for the first time the company received censorship requests from authorities in Bolivia, the Czech Republic, Jordan, and Ukraine.

Possibly the oddest request came from Canada. There the country's Passport Office requested the removal of a YouTube clip that showed "a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet."

Google decided this video did not break any laws and refused to comply with the censorship request. (Source:

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