YouTube and Online Censorship

YouTube and Censorship (PRL 614 Assignment Post)

Apart from the video, “Innocence of Muslims” which has sparked international outrage, the video giant YouTube has refused to remove other videos governments and individuals have requested to be taken down.

What may not be widely known is that the United States leads the world in Google content removal (censorship) requests. The company received requests for the removal of 3,8511 items. In second place was Germany with 1,304.

Google complied with 63% of U.S. government requests for removal pf content from January 2011 to June 2011. When they refused to remove videos of police brutality, they refused.

In another case, Google refused to rebuffed a request from the Canada’s Passport Office to take down a video of a Canadian citizen urinated on his passport and flushing it down the toilet.

The company also refused to remove six videos mocking Pakistan’s army and senior politicians.

However, Google did block more than 100 videos in Thailand allegedly insulting the Turkish monarchy, which is a crime in the country.

Google, while not releasing all details on the government requests, is among large internet companies leading the way in transparency.

About the government requests, Google noted,

We hope this tool will shine some light on the appropriate scope and authority of government requests to obtain user data around the globe.”

In regards to Google’s obligations to balance free speech and restricting the spread of inflammatory content, Google has none. It is a private company which makes decisions based on its community guidelines and only has the obligation to remove illegal material, not what some may find in poor taste.