U.S. government leads world in Google censorship requests

With the U.S. government’s constant stream of Internet regulatory and censorship legislation and treaties—SOPA, Acta, H.R. 1981, CISPA, TPP, etc.—it comes as no real surprise that the U.S. leads the world in censorship requests submitted to Google.

According to Google’s annual transparency report, 12,271 user data requests were filed in the year 2011. Google fully or partially complied with 93% of these requests (give the government what it wants, of course). Google states, “Government requests for user data from the United States include those issued by U.S. authorities on behalf of other governments pursuant to mutual legal assistance treaties and other diplomatic mechanisms.”

The transparency report also covers content removal requests, reporting that a “number of content removal requests we received increased by 103% compared to the previous reporting period.” From the period January to June 2011, Google “received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality,” which the company did not remove.

“Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials,” notes Google. “We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.”

Google received 92 content removal requests in the first half of 2011 and 187 content removal requests in the second half. Google either fully or partially complied with 63% of the requests in the first half of the year and 43% in the second half of 2011.

This trend will only accelerate as countries seek to know more and more about their citizens. Safeguards must be put in place to prevent this from happening, and it starts with voters creating noise and holding politicians to account in the name of civil liberty.

Check out Google’s 2010 transparency report for comparison.

[Image via UpTown Almanac]