April 27, 2013 at 10:46 AM ET
The latest Transparency Report from Google, which lists and explains requests the company receives to restrict or remove content, shows that while the search giant is happy to respect copyright and trademark law, it won't take something down just because someone asks nicely — or not so nicely.
The report covers the last six months of 2012, during which Google received 2,285 government requests to remove a total of 24,179 pieces of content. That's about a 20 percent increase over the previous six months.
Interestingly, much of that increase was because of Brazil, where municipal elections sparked hundreds of court orders alleging that content online was in violation of their electoral code. Judges, government attorneys, and other officials put in requests to take down blogs and videos critical (or as they alleged, defamatory) of them.
Google is appealing a large number of the cases on the grounds that the content is legal under the Brazilian Constitution — and that isn't the only place they rebuffed requests for takedowns.
The company's notes on the report, which can be read here, list dozens of occasions where companies, officials, or private individuals requested a takedown of personally damaging content — video, images, or accounts that someone would rather not have showing up online. Google declined in almost all cases to remove such content.
However, where a sound legal precedent existed, Google complied: Legitimate copyright takedown requests were respected, as were defamation allegations that appeared in line with a country's definition of that offense.
The most controversial Google-hosted content of all, however, remains online: "Innocence of Muslims," the inflammatory video insulting Islam remains online in most of the world despite widespread protest. 20 countries requested Google review the video, and it was found to be within the service's Community Guidelines. 17 countries requested the video's removal, and in response Google restricted viewing in 10 of them, including India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.
Google's blog post concerning the report has some more information and links to different sections, where users can track outages and view reports and events by date or country.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.