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Online censorship comes to western democracies

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Censorship has become commonplace in non-western countries like China and North Korea, however a recent report from Google indicates that even western democracies have been trying to censor politically conflicting websites. Countries like Spain, Poland and even Canada have all submitted requests for the removal of content from the search engine. The Guardian reports:

There has been an alarming rise in the number of times governments attempted to censor the internet in last six months, according to a report from Google.

Since the search engine last published its bi-annual transparency report, it said it had seen a troubling increase in requests to remove political content. Many of these requests came from western democracies not typically associated with censorship.

In a blog post, Dorothy Chou, Google’s senior policy analyst, wrote: “Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it’s not.

“This is the fifth data set that we’ve released. Just like every other time, we’ve been asked to take down political speech. It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – western democracies not typically associated with censorship.”

Over the six months covered by the latest report, Google complied with an average of 65% of court orders, as opposed to 47% of more informal requests.

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