Google has shared a new report that reveals new statistics of a staggering increase in the number of requests that the company has received to censor specific user created content online. Perhaps the most surprising detail is the fact that these requests are not coming from the expected countries that use heavy censorship in their societies, but rather Western countries with standard democratic governments.
The data collected by Google shows that in the most recent six-month period, the number of U.S. requests for removal of search results, blog posts and videos increased by 718% from the six months prior. Google should be commended for its discretion, complying with only some of the requests and ensuring that freedom of speech is not compromised for full service internet. A majority of the requests that the company processed were to retrieve user data in criminal investigations. This bit of information should come as a delight to internet marketers as they Google is much more likely to remove information related to court orders and working with the law than regular government requests to censor information.
Other countries like Spain and Poland made a large number of requests to remove negative information found in search results and news stories about political figures and public agencies. This is not expected behavior from Western countries but the increase in requests correlates with the increase in services offered and the number of users that the company owns. Google complied with much fewer requests from foreign countries than from the United States. Google’s strength in the information sector draws endless attention, so it is interesting to consider how search engine agencies will draw from this new information and whether or not they can apply their talents to take advantage of the extra attention politically charged and government related sources of news receive.