The company says it received 3,846 requests from government officials around the world to take down almost 25,000 pieces of content in the first six months of this year, marking a 68% increase from the latter half of last year.
Some of the requests were aimed at silencing criticism of the government, Google's legal director, Susan Infantino, says in a blog post. “Judges have asked us to remove information that’s critical of them, police departments want us to take down videos or blogs that shine a light on their conduct, and local institutions like town councils don’t want people to be able to find information about their decision-making processes,” she writes. “In this particular reporting period, we received 93 requests to take down government criticism and removed content in response to less than one third of them.”
In first half of the year, requests by U.S. government officials to remove material were up by 70% compared to the latter half of 2012. Overall, the company received 545 government requests to take down 3,887 pieces of content. Google complied, or partially complied, with 55 of those requests.
Between January and the end of June, at least two law enforcement agencies in the U.S. unsuccessfully asked Google to take down material that made the police look bad. In one case, a local law enforcement agency wanted Google to remove YouTube clips of police brutality. A different U.S. law enforcement agency unsuccessfully requested that Google remove videos “defaming” officials.
Google says it also received 27 requests from a federal agency to suspend 89 apps from the Play store for trademark infringement. The company removed 76 of the apps. Google didn't disclose the name of the agency, or the apps.
While this latest report sheds light on censorship attempts by the government, it's worth noting that Google still isn't able to provide key information about another topic -- the National Security Agency's requests for data about users. Google, Mirosoft and other companies are seeking a court order to allow them to disclose aggregated data about the number of demands they receive pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The court hasn't yet ruled on the companies' request.