Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Online censorship: What Pakistan's low ranking on Google's list means

The Pakistani government made less than 10 requests to Google to remove content for the period July – December 2010.
This was revealed in the most recent Transparency Report published by American multinational public corporation, Google Inc.
The preamble of the report states that government agencies and courts from various countries often send requests to the internet company to remove content from Google. They also request that Google hand over user data.
In a statement included in the report, Google states the nature of various countries’ reservations:
“Some content removals are requested due to allegations of defamation, while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography.”
Commenting on Pakistan’s place on the list, Aleem Bawany, General Manager of Online Strategy and Development, Express Media Group says that the low ranking is not necessarily indicative of less censorship.
“Pakistan, as we have seen in the past, has taking some drastic censorship measures. That’s because PIE (Pakistan Internet Exchange) has control over blocking entire domains locally,” says Bawany.
He added that while PIE is a global filter, other countries with a better legal setup don’t need a global filter.
“They can send a court order to all known Internet providers and ask them to block an offending domain.”
Others on the list
The United Kingdom tops the chart with 93,518 items requested to be removed, out of which 158 items were not removed. Other countries in the top five were South Korea, Brazil, Germany and the United States. All countries in the top five had a high percentage of request compliance.
India ranked number six on the table with 282 item removal requests. Google only fulfilled 22% of these requests.
Google also received 1,699 requests for information on users of Google accounts or services, 79% of these requests were fulfilled. A majority of the Indian removal requests came via law enforcement agencies, including one requesting the removal of a blog and YouTube videos critical of senior government officials of Indian States.
The highest number of removal requests cited defamation as the reason, followed by privacy and security, impersonation and government criticism.
The top 10 countries on the list are:

  1. United Kingdom
  2. South Korea
  3. Brazil
  4. Germany
  5. United States
  6. India
  7. Libya
  8. Italy
  9. France
  10. Argentina


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