December 8th, 2011
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India asks Google to drop 358 items

google-indiaNew Delhi: According to Google’s Transparency Report for January to June 2011, the Internet search giant received requests from the Indian government asking them to remove 358 items. 255 items were classified under the “government criticism” category.

The government had asked Google to remove 236 items from Orkut and 19 items from YouTube for the same reason, it added. Other reasons include defamation (39 requests), privacy and security (20 requests), impersonation (14 requests), hate speech (8 requests), pornography (3 requests) and national security (1 request). As much as 51 per cent of the total requests were partially or fully complied with, the report said.

India is one of only four countries which, during the first half of 2011, requested Google to remove content on the basis that it was critical of the government. The other countries were Thailand and Turkey and United States.

Interestingly, the biggest chunk of government criticism is accounted for by a single “request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 236 communities and profiles from [social networking site] orkut that were critical of a local politician.” Google did not identify this politician, but it did state that “we did not comply with this request, since the content did not violate our Community Standards or local law.”

Google’s statistics gain significance in the light of its alleged refusal to comply with the Indian government’s recent demand to block the publication of incendiary hate speech from its sites. On Monday, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Kapil Sibal summoned executives of Google, Yahoo, Facebook and Microsoft for a meeting after they stonewalled repeated requests to block incendiary communal material being posted on social networking sites they operated.

Overall, Google says it complied fully or partially with 51 per cent of the requests. “We received requests from state and local law enforcement agencies to remove YouTube videos that displayed protests against social leaders or used offensive language in reference to religious leaders,” said the Google report. “We declined the majority of these requests and only locally restricted videos that appeared to violate local laws prohibiting speech that could incite enmity between communities.”

Last year, between July and December 2010, Google says it “received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states.” It did not comply with those requests.

This report of Google gains significance as it comes at a time when Kapil Sibil has raised the need to screen objectionable content and chalk out a code of conduct for the social media networks and other websites.


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