India seeks to scrub out more online

It has made maximum number of requests to Google on content removal

June 18, 2012 04:36 pm | Updated November 22, 2021 06:55 pm IST - Chennai

On a global scale, India made the maximum number of requests to Google through executive and police agencies for removal of content from the company's online services, but achieved a low rate of compliance from July to December 2011. By contrast, there were five court orders for removal of content, four of them on grounds of defamation, with a higher compliance rate by the company than in the case of executive orders.

The figures were released as part of the Transparency Report compiled by the company, recording the role played by governments and litigation in erasing content on the Internet.

In the case of user data, India's 2,207 requests to share information on 3,427 users or accounts are exceeded only by the United States, and Google complied with in the case of 66 per cent of these. The large number of such requests prompted some civil rights activists to allege profiling of communities by official agencies in India.

Video-sharing website YouTube attracted the maximum attention, with a request from executive authorities and police to remove 133 items, the majority of them on grounds of defamation (77), hate speech (24) and national security (10), besides other categories that include offensive material on religion.

Defamation also figured high on the list of items that Google was asked to scrub off its servers, on the Blogger and Orkut platforms. Of the 49 items that were sought to be removed from Blogger, 23 were allegedly defamatory, while 14 pertained to privacy and security.

Rate of compliance

Google defines compliance as “removal requests fully or partially complied with.” In India's case, there were a total of 101 such requests, including the court orders, involving 255 items of content. The rate of compliance stood at 29 per cent overall.

In the U.S., “Government requests for user data include those issued on behalf of other governments pursuant to mutual legal assistance treaties and other diplomatic mechanisms,” according to Google. Ninety-three per cent of the requests involving 12,243 users or accounts sought by America were complied with, the report said.

Data for Pakistan indicate that 15 items were sought to be purged through two executive requests with a success rate of 50 per cent. Six YouTube videos that the Pakistan Ministry of Information Technology wanted removed for satirizing the Army and senior politicians, however, stayed on the site.

Political campaigns

Explaining the case of Brazil, Google said there were relatively more government requests because of the popularity of social networking website Orkut. Some profiles connected with political campaigns were pulled off on court orders there.

“Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction,” the Mountain View-headquartered company explained. In the previous reporting period for January to June 2011, India made 65 requests through executive authorities for removal of 347 items. Google cooperated on 51 per cent of those. In three court orders for the same period covering 13 items, there was a 67 per cent compliance rate, the Transparency Report said.

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