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Brazil government leader in online censorship requests, says Google Transparency Report

Monday, April 29th 2013 - 06:30 UTC
Full article 11 comments
In two cases, the director of Google Brazil went to jail for refusing to comply with a court order to remove videos a mayoral candidate considered offensive. In two cases, the director of Google Brazil went to jail for refusing to comply with a court order to remove videos a mayoral candidate considered offensive.

Brazil has a big lead as the country with the most government requests to remove online content by judicial order in the latest Google Transparency Report, released last week. In the period between July and December 2012, the search giant received 1,461 court-ordered requests from governments around the world to remove content, including YouTube videos and search results, with nearly 43% of them coming from Brazilian authorities.

“The number of content removal requests we received increased by 265% compared to the previous reporting period,” reported Google in its notes on Brazil. This is not the first time the country has been the leader in government censorship requests, according to past Transparency Reports from Google. See the infographic from the Knight Center below to chart Brazil's requests over the years.

The 2012 elections contributed to the alarming rise, up to 316 requests--almost a half of the total--related to supposed violations of the Brazilian Elections Code. YouTube was the most targeted service for censorship requests.

The judicial route has proven to be the most effective way to censor content critical of Brazilian authorities, as shown in this timeline from the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas. In two cases, the director of Google Brazil went to jail for refusing to comply with a court order to remove videos a mayoral candidate considered offensive.

“Google removed content in response to 35 final court decisions. Google is exercising its right of appeal provided under Brazilian law in the other cases, on the basis that the content is protected by freedom of expression under the Brazilian Constitution,” the company explained.

The United States, second on the list, made 262 requests to remove 3,624 items. Google acquiesced to 45% of them. When it came to requesting user information, the US was at the top, with 8,438 requests for information on 14,791 users, of which Google approved 88% of the time, the highest percentage on the list.

A majority of the requests for content removal were related to political criticism. Google's official blog observed that government attempts to censor content on its platform have increased over the last seven reports. “In more places than ever, we’ve been asked by governments to remove political content that people post on our services. In this particular time period, we received court orders in several countries to remove blog posts criticizing government officials or their associates.”

Argentina was the third country in the Americas with the most content removal requests for Google. In the latest period analyzed, there were 51 requests to remove 160 items, of which 96% were honored. The report highlighted a request from the Argentine government to remove a YouTube video that supposedly defamed the president “by depicting her in a compromising position.” The video was not removed but there was an age restriction placed on it.
 

Categories: Politics, Brazil, Latin America.

Top Comments

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  • John III (Pope)

    Both Brazil and the US need to be very careful in this area. Government censorship is not a good look and both countries have a lot to loose!

    Apr 29th, 2013 - 07:00 am 0
  • Trunce

    Government requests

    Argentina

    We received a request to remove a YouTube video that allegedly defames the President by depicting her in a compromising position. We age-restricted the video in accordance with YouTube's Community Guidelines.

    Caption competition anyone?

    http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/government/

    Apr 29th, 2013 - 09:20 am 0
  • Conqueror

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGIfQ-GVM58

    Apr 29th, 2013 - 10:53 am 0
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