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Google Didn’t Remove Police Brutality Porn, But They Did Scrub a Bunch of Other Stuff

800px censored stamp Google Didnt Remove Police Brutality Porn, But They Did Scrub a Bunch of Other StuffThe Atlantic‘s Rebecca Rosen takes note of Google’s latest Transparency Report, in which the company boasts of their refusal to comply with a request “from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality.” Wonderful! Unfortunately, they did remove a bunch of other stuff, the contents of which they’re not about to explain in anything but the most vague terms possible. After an extensive look into the context of the report, BetaBeat can sufficiently surmise this: They were not cat videos.

To be clear, the videos weren’t from any of the recent Occupy protests, as the report reflects the first half of the 2011 calendar year. But still, it looks like they got a good share of requests to take stuff down, and definitely complied with them. Rosen, with the numbers:

63 percent of the 92 requests for content removal and a whopping 93 percent of the 5,950 requests for user data.

For those counting, that’s about 5,533 requests for user data that Google complied with. Their reasoning?

We generally rely on courts to decide if a statement is defamatory according to local law.

Of course, an Tuscaloosa, Alabama court’s definition of “defamatory” could wildly differ from a Manhattan court’s definition of “defamatory.” After all, only one of those places sees the New York Post on newsstands every day. Let’s also not forget: the politics of local municipalities could come heavily into play vis-a-vis the issues being put on display in said videos, and the subjectivity involved with each ruling of what’s defamatory and what isn’t could affect the definition of such a thing.

small world 114823 Google Didnt Remove Police Brutality Porn, But They Did Scrub a Bunch of Other StuffAlso interesting is the international rundown of the Transparency Report, where countries’ respective flags sit next to each report on who tried to censor what, like an Epcot Center of Orwellian censorship! For example:

  • For the first time, the Cook Islands filed a removal request. Mazel Tov! Same with Sri Lanka, and Poland, where it was filed by a bear.*
  • ZE GERMANS! increased their removal requests by 38% compared to the previous period. They were all Baywatch supercuts. *
  • The majority of requests from the Indian government to remove videos of protests were refused.
  • The Russians? “For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.” In Soviet Russia, CONTENT SCRUB YOU.
  • Speaking of Orwellian, the number of content removal requests from the British increased 71%, all of which were podcasts about how awful Downtown Abbey actually was.*
  • And of course, in America, content removal requests increased by 70%, and data requests by 29%.

It’s a small, censorship happy world after all.

[*Not true, but fun to imagine.]

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