In H2 2019, police topped govt content takedown requests on Google

In H2 2019, police topped govt content takedown requests on Google
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25 Jun, 2020

Police topped the list of government agencies that submitted content takedown requests across Google products and services in the second half of 2019. 

In its latest transparency report covering the period between July 1, 2019, and December 31, 2019, Google said it received 760 content takedown requests from the Indian government, of which 604 were from the police. 

However, the number is less than the 906 total requests filed during the first half of the year. 

Government agencies that can apply for takedown requests include the judiciary, court orders including those directed at a third party, executive orders, information and communications authority, government officials, apart from the police. 

Of the total 7,029 items of content requested to be removed during the period by the government, 6,472 were on the Youtube platform. 

In total, 4,526 requests were made by the police to remove specific items. The requests primarily dealt with defamation, followed by content deemed offensive to religion and content that threatened national security. The comparative number of items removed during the first half of 2019 from January 1 to June 30 stood at 4,395.

In its report, Google said that it had received an ex-parte court order to delist 17 URLs (uniform resource locator) from Google search, which covered allegations of sexual misconduct against a high profile Indian artist. Of these, the company delisted nine URLs from its Indian search service.

Google and its services also received 10,891 user information requests for the second half of 2019, mostly routed by way of “other legal requests.” This was higher than 8,547 such requests received in the January to June period in 2019. 

Government agencies, by law, can request disclosure of user information for civil, administrative, criminal and national security purposes, according to information provided by Google. If the law permits, the search engine giant notifies the user through email about the information requested by the government. Verified government agencies usually submit these requests to Google directly.

During the period from July to December 2019, Google responded to government requests in 62% of the 10,891 instances. These covered 25,896 accounts across Gmail, Youtube, GoogleVoice and Blogger.

Compared to this, Facebook saw a total of 26,698 requests from the Indian government during the period from July to December 2019 across 39,664 accounts, according to its transparency report released in May.

The June to December period of 2019 also coincided with protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. The agitations started during the month of December.