Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Worldwide, search and take-down requests of users by governments and large corporations grow exponentially (not logarithmically)


Arstechnica  has an important stpry by Timothy B. Lee today (Tuesday November 13, 2012) about surveillance and takedown requests (both copyright related and other causes) sent to Google by governments and large corporate interests. The title is “US gets more Google user data than all other countries combined”, link here

The requests for copyright-related takedowns from all over the world have grown from 100000 URLs per week in mid 2011 to almost two million today.  This appears to include YouTube videos and blog postings and removals from search engine results.  When an excessive number of credible copyright complaints against a user have occurred on YouTube, typically all the user’s videos are removed.  I often encounter this with videos that I have embedded;  typically, the complaint was against the user for videos other than one I used.  It does not appear that users are being penalized for embedding videos that are later taken down.

Takedowns for other reasons, such as libel and religious insult, are much less frequent, but do happen, especially outside the US (where there is no Section 230 protection).  Sometimes content is blocked only in specific countries, as with the recent anti-Islamic video controversy.

Governments around the world requested information from over 34000 Google users in 2012, up 36% over 2011.  User information may well feed into the recent Petraeus scandal, which seems to become a more complicated example of government and private snooping by the hour.  

There is a video by Jonathan Bailey of Twitter's takedown requests. 

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