According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, later today Google will publish its Global Transparency Report, “a biannual study the search giant started in 2010.” It will say, amongst other things, that:
The company said it received 461 court orders demanding the removal of 6,989 items in the second half. Google consented to 68% of those requests. The company received 546 informal requests, such as phone calls from police officials, requesting the removal of 4,925 items. It complied with 43% of them.
In total, Google received 1,007 requests and complied with roughly 54% of them. The statistics don’t include countries such as China and Iran that block Google content directly without submitting removal requests to the company.
The Guardian states that this represents an alarming rise in censorship by governments.
Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst at Google, is reported as saying that: “It’s really troubling because there’s a lot of instances of political speech that governments are asking us to remove…”.
In introducing a paragraph on Thailand, it is stated that
… in some places, Google complies with laws that would be unthinkable in the U.S. and other countries with free-speech protections. One example is in Thailand, where Google removes YouTube videos that insult the monarchy, a crime under Thai law. Google in the second half [of the year] restricted or partially restricted all 149 YouTube videos identified by Thai authorities as insulting to the monarchy.
At the Google page on Thailand it is stated:
We received four requests from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in Thailand to remove 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy in violation of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. We restricted 70% of these videos from view in Thailand in accordance with local law.
Chou argues that Google “must comply to continue doing business.” She adds:
We operate locally there…. In most of these cases, we have offices in these countries, we have employees in these countries, so we want to be able to respect local law there. That said, we try to limit the amount of censorship that is happening at all times.”
Thailand continues to expend a huge effort on ensuring that the monarchy is “protected.”