New Delhi: There has been a 90% increase in the number of content removal requests by the Indian government and courts in the second half of 2012 compared with the previous reporting period, according to the latest transparency report released by Google Inc.
The report, which was released late on Thursday night, said Google was asked to remove 2,540 items through 97 requests, out of which nine were court orders. Google did not take action on almost 59% of the requests.
The spike in the number of demands from the Indian government could be attributed to tension in the several parts of the country stemming from rumours spread via the Internet, social networking sites and cellphone messages that people from the north-east would be targeted for revenge attacks over clashes in Assam.
“During the period of disturbance in the north-east region, we received five requests from the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to remove content from Google+, a Blogger blog, 64 YouTube videos, and 1,759 comments associated with some YouTube videos, that cited laws covering disruption of public order or ethnic offence laws,” Google said.
The report added that in response to the requests, Google removed one video for violating YouTube Community Guidelines. “We also restricted 47 Youtube Videos from local view, in addition to removing 12 YouTube comments and disabling local access to three Blogger blog posts that violated local laws.”
Google and some social networking and Internet firms have been criticized by the Indian authorities for not following the law of the land or cooperating with authorities in taking down content or revealing details of users. According to the report, the most requests were under the category of religious offence.
“We received a court order addressed to a third party to remove 247 search results for linking to websites that allegedly violated an individual’s privacy. We did not remove the search results because we were unable to determine their relationship to the court order. We requested a clarification but did not receive a reply,” the report added.
The Indian government has been condemned by free-speech advocates for what they say are actions tantamound to censorship. The government has denied the accusation.