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Google Transparency Report: UK requests removal of nearly 100,000 items from index

Google Transparency Report for the UK
Google Transparency Report for the UK
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The British Government made 38 separate requests to Google for the removal of data from the search giant’s index and 1,162 requests for access to user data, the company announced today.

Google Transparency Report for the UK
Google Transparency Report for the UK

This update to Google’s Transparency Report shows that 33 countries requested Google remove data, including 12 EU countries; Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, and Norway.

Google’s Transparency Report site details the number and type of requests Google receives from world governments asking for the removal of data.  Google says, “Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and federal courts around the world to remove content from our services and hand over user data. Our Government Requests tool discloses the number of requests we receive from each government in six-month periods with certain limitations.”

Google says it receives requests for the removal of data for a number of reasons,

“Some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography. Laws surrounding these issues vary by geographic region, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction. We hope this tool will be helpful in discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.”

In the EU, Germany made the greatest number of requests for data removal, 118, 97% of which Google complied with.  Although the UK made a lower number of separate removal requests, 38, it asked for a greater number of items to be removed, 93,518. In contrast Germany’s 118 removal requests asked for 1,932 items to be removed.

Country (By number of requests) Removal Requests Percentage of removal requests fully or partially complied with Items Requested To Be Removed
Germany 118 97% 1,932
Italy 49 100% 131
United Kingdom 38 89% 93,518
France 23 96% 116
Spain 13 100% 39
Belgium <10 0% <10
Croatia <10 100% <10
Denmark <10 100% <10
Greece <10 100% <10
Malta <10 0% <10
Netherlands <10 100% <10
Norway <10 0% <10

Data from these requests were removed after requests were made from the national courts and national police services.  These were made on the grounds of defamation, privacy and security, hate speech, copyright infringement, and for undisclosed reasons.

Google says that the UK’s disproportionate number of removed items is as a result of a request by the The Office of Fair Trading which  asked for the removal of fraudulent ads that linked to scams. This request resulted in the removal of 93,360 items from Google’s index.  Adjusted for this figure the UK requested the removal of 158 items, this brings it somewhat inline with the rest of Europe, second only to Germany.  The UK’s police force made the most number of requests for the removal of YouTube videos (16 requests for 40 items).

The Irish Government made no requests to Google for the removal of data during this period, this is down from about 10 requests in the same period in 2009. Separate freedom of information request by this site to Ireland’s Department of Communications and Department of Justice failed to reveal the details of the requests;  Neither department claimed to hold such records.

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Piers Dillon Scott
Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).