Google refuses to remove police-brutality videos, it says

Elaina Jeansonne stands in front of police during the Occupy Denver protest, Saturday in Denver.
Kathryn Scott Osler | Denver Post
Elaina Jeansonne stands in front of police during the Occupy Denver protest, Saturday in Denver.
Posted Oct. 31, 2011, at 6:52 a.m.
Last modified Oct. 31, 2011, at 7:29 a.m.

Poll Question

In its most recent Transparency Report, Google states that it has received multiple requests from law-enforcement officials to remove videos.

“We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove YouTube videos of police brutality, which we did not remove. Separately, we received requests from a different local law enforcement agency for removal of videos allegedly defaming law enforcement officials. We did not comply with those requests, which we have categorized in this Report as defamation requests.”

The report covers January to June of this year, and catalogs removal requests from a variety of sources. The report states that Google complied with 63 percent of the 92 requests for content removal and a 93 percent of the 5,950 requests for user data. Writing in The Atlantic, Rebecca J. Rosen says that the lack of detail in the report “does more for making government transparent than it does more making Google itself transparent.”

The company says it releases this information to “help in ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests,” and referred elsewhere to the need to reform the  Electronic Communications Privacy Act.

During the period, Google was asked to remove 757 items by the U.S. government, eighty percent of which were motivated by allegations of defamation. In all, the U.S. government filed 5,950 requests for information on Google users, making it the third-highest, behind Brazil and Germany.

One request, however, does not necessarily relate to one case. As the Wall Street Journal points out,  a defamation case in France between a married couple resulted in 180 items from Google Groups removed.

 A map of government removal requests is here.

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