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Business News/ News / India/  Indian govt asked Google to remove more than 1.1 lakh items in last decade, ‘defamation’ emerges as prime reason
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Indian govt asked Google to remove more than 1.1 lakh items in last decade, ‘defamation’ emerges as prime reason

The number of government requests for content removal from Google has increased nearly 13 times in the past decade, with national security being the most common reason cited.

India among top 3 countries to ask Google to remove content from its platformsPremium
India among top 3 countries to ask Google to remove content from its platforms

Over the past ten years, the Indian government has requested Google to take down around 1.155 lakh content from its platforms including YouTube, web browser, etc. With this, India emerged as the top third country to send requests to Google for content removal, according to a Surfshark study.

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Between 2013 and 2022, Indian government agencies have requested Google to take down content over 19,600 times. The analysis showed that ‘defamation’ emerged as one of the most frequent reasons for the requests. 

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The data highlighted a global trend of governments attempting to censor information with the help of content removal requests. The report said that governmental requests for content removal exceeded 3,55,000 over the last decade. The year 2022 emerges as a record-breaking year with a 50% rise in removal requests.  

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Content removal requests increase globally during international conflicts and wars

“Government requests for content removal from Google products are on the rise. In the past decade, the global count has surged nearly 13 times — from 7k to 91k requests annually," stated the Surfshark report.

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At a global level, the report mentioned national security as the main reason cited by governments for content removal. The report threw light upon a notable increase in content removal requests to Google by governments across the globe during times of international conflicts and wars. 

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"A notable increase in content removal requests to Google by governments around the world during times of international conflicts and wars prompts us to consider the balance between genuine interest in a country's public safety and the potential encroachment into censorship," said Agneska Sablovskaja, Lead Researcher at Surfshark.

Most of the content asked to be removed was from YouTube 

Out of all the platforms managed by Google, YouTube's content attracted major scrutiny from the Indian government. The reason why most of the content removal requests were for YouTube. 

“Most of the content India requested to remove was from YouTube (8.8k), Google Play Apps (4.3k) and Web Search (1.4k)," the report stated. 

The Indian government made a total of 19,600 requests for content removal from Google. On average the government made 5 requests per day during the last ten years. The top three justifications of content removal requests were defamation (20.1%), involving harm to reputation, including claims of libel, slander, and corporate defamation. Defamation was followed by impersonation (16.3%) and then privacy and security (8.3%).

The top three biggest requesters for content removal from India have been the police, court orders directed at Google, and information and communications authority.

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Published: 22 Nov 2023, 11:15 PM IST
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