Google has updated its running transparency report with data from the second half of 2011, revealing an uptick in content removal requests from governments, including an increase of 103 percent from the United States since last time. “When we started releasing this data in 2010, we also added annotations with some of the more interesting stories behind the numbers. We noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not,” explained senior policy analyst Dorothy Chou. Although the company complies a great majority of the time, they have to draw the line somewhere, like with angry, pissing Canadians:
We received a request from the Passport Canada office to remove a YouTube video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. We did not comply with this request.
In the U.S., local law enforcement requested that 1,400 videos be removed “for alleged harassment,” although again Google did not comply. In the beginning of 2011, a video showing police brutality was also flagged for a takedown, but remained online.
“This is the fifth data set that we’ve released,” Chou said. “And just like every other time before, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect — Western democracies not typically associated with censorship.” But YouTube is here, so we can all pee freely, to a point.