India tops the list of govts that seek to censor online content

India tops the list of govts that seek to censor online content
Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Pexels
3 Oct, 2019

The Indian government has made the maximum number of content removal requests to major online platforms compared to its counterparts across the globe.

India accounted for 19.86% of the overall number of removal requests made to technology giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Wikimedia till date, according to a report by UK-based research website Comparitech.

Close behind India is Russia that accounted for 19.75% of the total 390,764 number of content removal requests till date.

The report Which government censors the tech giants the most? also collated individual data across the online platforms. Comparitech analysed transparency reports released by the five platforms.

Google started recording the number of content removal requests it received from courts and government agencies all over the world in 2009. It discloses the figures on a six-month basis. Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, Wikimedia and several other content-driven platforms soon followed suit with their transparency reports.

Another list that India topped for content removal requests was in the individual Facebook list. Data from Facebook’s transparency report revealed that India accounted for 33.33% of the overall requests submitted to it globally.

As many as 91.23% of the Indian government’s content removal requests across platforms were found to be made to Facebook.

“We received a request from law enforcement in India to remove a photo that depicted a sketch of the Prophet Mohammed,” Comparitech quoted Facebook, to elaborate on the kind of content removal requests the social media giant receives from India.

The content didn’t violate Facebook’s community standards but was made unavailable in India where any depiction of Mohammed is forbidden.

The report also said India was the fifth with respect to content removal requests sent to Google and the fourth for requests sent to Twitter.

The Comparitech report comes at a time when the ministry of electronics and IT (MeitY) is stepping up efforts to address the accountability of content posted on social media.

Last month, the Supreme Court asked the government to frame guidelines to curb misuse of social media while ensuring privacy as part of its hearing on transfer petition filed by Facebook.

Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications at Facebook, made a case on the importance of sharing data between governments to ensure the security of citizens.