Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to remove content from our services and hand over user data. Our Government Requests tool discloses the number of requests we receive from each government in six-month reporting periods with certain limitations.

Governments ask companies to remove content for many different reasons. For example, 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. Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction. We hope this tool will be helpful in discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of government requests.

These observations on content removal requests highlight some trends that we’ve seen in the data during each reporting period, and are by no means exhaustive.

January to June 2011

China

  • We received three requests to remove a total of 121 items from our services. We removed ads that violated our AdWords policies in response to two of those requests, but did not comply otherwise. We have withheld details about one request because we have reason to believe that the Chinese government has prohibited us from full disclosure.
  • YouTube was inaccessible in China during this reporting period.

Cook Islands

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

France

  • A single court order resulted in the removal of 180 items from Google Groups relating to a case of defamation against a man and his wife.
  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 27% compared to the previous reporting period.

Germany

  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 38% compared to the previous reporting period.

India

  • We received requests from state and local law enforcement agencies to remove YouTube videos that displayed protests against social leaders or used offensive language in reference to religious leaders. We declined the majority of these requests and only locally restricted videos that appeared to violate local laws prohibiting speech that could incite enmity between communities. In addition, we received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 236 communities and profiles from orkut that were critical of a local politician. We did not comply with this request, since the content did not violate our Community Standards or local law.

Libya

Norway

  • Two requests resulted in the removal of 1814 items from AdWords for violating Norwegian marketing laws.

Poland

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Russia

  • For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.

South Korea

  • Starting with the January-June 2011 reporting period, our counts of requests to remove content from Google’s search products omit cases where the original content is no longer visible on the web, for instance, after the webmaster has removed it. (Such content may remain visible in Google’s search index for a while after the original disappears, as a cached copy or search snippet.) The drop in the number of items requested to be removed between 2010 and 2011 can be explained by this change. In addition, a request from the Korean Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) resulted in the removal of 441 ads that violated KFDA regulations.
  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 36% compared to the previous reporting period.

Spain

  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 28% compared to the previous reporting period.

Sri Lanka

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Thailand

  • We received two requests from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in Thailand to remove 225 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy in violation of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law. We restricted Thai users from accessing 90% of the videos.

Turkey

  • We received court orders and requests from the Telecommunications Communication Presidency of the Information and Communications Technologies Authority to remove YouTube videos and blogs that documented details about the private lives of political officials. We restricted Turkish users from accessing YouTube videos that appeared to violate local laws and removed the blogs for violating Blogger’s Terms of Service.
  • Blogger was partially inaccessible in Turkey during this time period.

United Kingdom

  • The number of content removal requests we received increased by 71% compared to the previous reporting period.

United States

  • 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 number of content removal requests we received increased by 70% compared to the previous reporting period.
  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 29% compared to the previous reporting period.

July to December 2010

Australia

  • User data requests increased by ~72% compared to the previous reporting period because of a change in how Google categorized requests for data rather than an increase in the number of requests themselves.

Brazil

  • During the Fall election period in Brazil, the number of court orders issued from electoral courts rose, ordering removal of content related to political campaigns. In addition, one court ordered removal of more than 11,500 photos from Picasa. The lawsuit alleged that the photos contained images of pages from copyrighted books.

China

  • During the period that Google’s joint venture operated google.cn, its search results were subject to censorship pursuant to requests from government agencies responsible for Internet regulation. Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, so we cannot disclose any information about content removal requests for the two reporting periods from July 2009 to June 2010.As we announced in June 2010, users visiting the landing page on google.cn, now see a link to google.com.hk, (our Hong Kong site), where users can conduct web search or continue to use google.cn services like music and text translate, which we can provide locally without filtering.

    Hence, beginning with the July – December 2010 reporting period, we disclose the number of content removal requests we receive from the Chinese government. (For that reporting period, we received no requests.)

  • YouTube was inaccessible in China during this reporting period.

Croatia

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Denmark

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Hungary

  • For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.

India

  • We received requests from different law enforcement agencies to remove a blog and YouTube videos that were critical of Chief Ministers and senior officials of different states. We did not comply with these requests.
  • The number of content removal requests we received increased by 123% compared to the previous reporting period.

Italy

  • We received a request from the Central Police in Italy for removal of a YouTube video that criticized Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and simulated his assassination with a gun at the end of the video. We removed the video for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.
  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 29% compared to the previous reporting period.

Kazakhstan

Mexico

  • For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.

Panama

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

South Korea

  • The majority of the more than 32,000 individual items that Korean government agencies sought to be removed were search results on google.co.kr that contained RRNs.
  • The number of content removal requests we received increased by 48% compared to the previous reporting period.

Thailand

  • We received a request from the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology in Thailand to remove 43 pieces of content because they were mocking or criticizing the king in violation of Thai lèse-majesté laws. We restricted Thai users from accessing these videos.

United Kingdom

  • The UK’s Office of Fair Trading requested the removal of fraudulent ads that linked to scams. We complied with the request and removed 93,360 items in total.

United States

  • Six court orders resulted in the removal of 1,110 items from Google Groups relating to a case of continuous defamation against a man and his family.

Vietnam

  • We received a request from the Vietnamese government to remove search results on a particular word that generated results that contained allegedly unflattering depictions of past Vietnamese leaders. We declined the request.
  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

January to June 2010

Argentina

  • The courts in Argentina issued two orders that sought the removal of every search result mentioning a particular individual’s name in association with a certain category of content. The number of search results at issue well exceeds 100,000 results. We did not attempt to approximate the number of individual items of content that might be encompassed by those two court orders. Google appealed those orders.

Australia

  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 29% compared to the previous reporting period.

Brazil

  • More than 50% of content removal requests related to orkut. Atypically, in a non-orkut-related lawsuit, one court ordered removal of more than 18,000 photos from Picasa. The lawsuit alleged that the photos contained images of pages from copyrighted books.
  • The number of content removal requests we received increased by 37% compared to the previous reporting period.

China

  • During the period that Google’s joint venture operated google.cn, its search results were subject to censorship pursuant to requests from government agencies responsible for Internet regulation. Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, so we cannot disclose any information about content removal requests for the two reporting periods from July 2009 to June 2010.
  • YouTube was inaccessible in China during this reporting period.

Cyprus

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Germany

  • A substantial number of German removal requests resulted from court orders that related to defamation in search results.
  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 46% compared to the previous reporting period.

Greece

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Hong Kong

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.
  • For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.

India

  • The number of user data requests we received increased by 35% compared to the previous reporting period.

Kazakhstan

  • We received a request from a local ministry in Kazakhstan to remove the YouTube channel for a TV channel supportive of the opposition. We did not comply with this request.
  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.
  • Blogger was partially inaccessible in Kazakhstan during this time period.

Libya

  • Libya, which did not appear on our list in 2009, issued 147 requests to YouTube for removal of more than 1,000 videos. We have not removed most of those videos, although we did partially comply with the majority of the requests (i.e., removing one or more videos in response to any given request, for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines).
  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Pakistan

  • YouTube was inaccessible in Pakistan for 6 days during this reporting period due to concerns around the “Everyone Draw Mohammad Day” competition organized by a Facebook user.

Portugal

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Puerto Rico

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

Solomon Islands

  • For the first time, we received one or more content removal requests.

South Korea

  • The majority of the more than 15,000 individual URLs that Korean government agencies sought to be removed were search results on google.co.kr that contained RRNs.
  • The number of content removal requests we received increased by 47% compared to the previous reporting period.

Taiwan

  • For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.

Turkey

  • Google AdWords, Google Analytics and Google Docs were inaccessible in Turkey for a week during an attempt to block YouTube.
  • For the first time, the number of user data requests reached the threshold for reporting.

July to December 2009

Argentina

  • A federal prosecutor claimed that information about him and his wife (a federal judge) had been posted for analysis on two political blogs and asked that we remove them. We removed a portion of one of the blogs for revealing private information about the judge, but otherwise did not comply because it did not violate our internal policies.

Brazil

  • The majority of the Brazilian requests for removal of content from orkut related to alleged impersonation or defamation.

Canada

  • We received a request from a Canadian politician to remove a blog criticizing his policies. We declined to remove the blog because it did not violate our policies.

China

  • During the period that Google’s joint venture operated google.cn, its search results were subject to censorship pursuant to requests from government agencies responsible for Internet regulation. Chinese officials consider censorship demands to be state secrets, so we cannot disclose any information about content removal requests for the two reporting periods from July 2009 to June 2010.
  • YouTube was inaccessible in China during this reporting period.

Germany

  • A substantial number of German removal requests resulted from court orders that related to defamation in search results. Approximately 11% of the German removal requests are related to pro-Nazi content or content advocating denial of the Holocaust, both of which are illegal under German law.

India

  • In the last half of 2009, the majority of Indian requests for removal of content from orkut related to alleged impersonation or defamation.
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