Google released its “Content Removal Transparency Report” on Friday for the period of January to June 2021, based on local government requests to remove particular content from the Google ecosystem.
Google’s latest report contains demands for material removal from governments and courts around the world, including India, where Google has been criticised for antitrust and content moderation issues.
In terms of removal requests, where does India stand?
According to Google, there has been a worldwide increase in content removal requests, both in terms of volume and the quantity of individual items to be removed.
India had the second-highest number of requests for content removal in terms of volume between January and June 2021, after only Russia.
For removal requests based on volume, South Korea, Turkey, Pakistan, Brazil, the United States, Vietnam, and Indonesia followed India’s lead.
Indonesia topped the list of countries seeking to ban certain items from Google’s search environment.
In terms of removal requests based on “number of things,” India came in sixth place. Indonesia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, South Korea, India, Vietnam, the United States, Turkey, and Brazil were the countries with the most requests for material removal.
Why do governments ask for content to be removed from Google?
According to Google, it receives material removal requests from all over the world, including court orders, written demands from governments, and requests from law enforcement organisations.
It’s worth noting that a single request can sometimes need the removal of numerous pieces of content, and that a single request can occasionally necessitate the removal of multiple articles.
India’s attitude toward Big Tech has shifted dramatically in the last two years, with new IT guidelines requiring on-site grievance officers and strict adherence to local laws.
Big Tech wields considerable influence on internet speech. Should it be stifled?
The decision to ban Donald Trump from Twitter earlier this month was the result of years of escalating tensions between the business and Trump, its most visible power user.
It did, however, raise some important questions: Should a single corporation have such power? Was there no legal recourse for one of the world’s most powerful persons who was kicked from one of the internet’s largest communities in a country that places a high importance on free speech?
“These corporations have become so aggressive because they’re limited surprisingly little,” said Mark Grady, a law and economics professor at UCLA School of Law. “Every angle you consider that could be used to control their moderation behaviour proves to be a nonstarter. When you look at the body of law that governs these companies, you’ll notice that there’s very little that restricts them.”
Legal experts say that attempting to control how major U.S. digital corporations manage their platforms will be challenging under the current legal framework in the United States.
Antitrust legislation was created to address issues like competition and consumer prices, whereas the First Amendment protects expression from government encroachment.
The question of what role the government should — or can — have in regulating how digital companies moderate their platforms has become a political flashpoint with little bipartisan consensus.