Google is, without a doubt, the most popular online search engine. People all around the world flock to it if they wish to find out something on the web. However, with its popularity, Google also has to face huge pressures – from governments, including the U.S. governments. These governments want Google to censor data from its search results.
In a recent ‘transparency report’, Google has expressed concern that the number of censorship requests made by different governments are increasing at an alarming rate. Most of these requests are simply to shut up political dissent against a regime, thus axing the democratic right of an individual.
According to a senior policy analyst at Google, Dorothy Chou, “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.”
He then cites some examples which show how shamelessly some governments can make such requests which clearly infringe upon basic human rights, ‘For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests.’
The U.S. government is, in no way, less eager to have Google search results censored. According to this report, during the last six months of 2011, U.S. government requested to have 6192 pieces of content removed from its search results. 187 requests were made from U.S. law enforcement agencies and court to remove content.
Whereas some forms of content, such as copyright infringing content and such content as actively promotes violence, is right to be removed from search results, what is worrisome is that some of these requests demanded the removal of such content which simply criticized a government.
Google, while braving most of the times the pressure of the governments and not complying with their requests, agreed to the request at some instances. The report is a stark reminder that as more and more world becomes connected to the web, governments around the world are vying to lay their hands on this network and strangle its freedom.
Source: Google Transparency Report