YouTube gets requests from national governments to take down videos. The number of requests is rising. Compared to the enormous number of videos posted every day and left online, the number of requests is infinitesimal.
As far as stamping out opposition,YouTube is out of control. The governments cannot stop it. Most videos stay online. Google complies with fewer than half of these requests, it says.
This is very good news. It means that governments around the world are incapable of keeping up with the enormous number of anti-government videos. They must spend a lot of money to get each request through a court. Even when they do, their requests usually are not complied with. There is not much they can do about it.
The U.S. government is the biggest complainer by far: almost 3,000 requests in the final six months of 2011. Google complied in 40% of the cases. The list of countries, requests, and percentages is here.
Google gets requests from governments to take down political videos. In some cases, democratic governments demand this. This is censorship.
For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors. In Poland, we received a request from a public institution to remove links to a site that criticized it. We didn’t comply with either of these requests.
With respect to the United States, July-Dec. 2011, here are some examples.
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove a blog because of a post that allegedly defamed a law enforcement official in a personal capacity. We did not comply with this request, which we have categorized in this Report as a defamation request.
We received a request from a local law enforcement agency to remove 1,400 YouTube videos for alleged harassment. We did not comply with this request. Separately, we received a request from a different local law enforcement agency to remove five user accounts that allegedly contained threatening and/or harassing content. We terminated four of the accounts, which resulted in the removal of approximately 300 videos, but did not remove the remaining account with 54 videos.
We received a court order to remove 218 search results that linked to allegedly defamatory websites. We removed 25% of the results cited in the request.
The number of content removal requests we received increased by 103% compared to the previous reporting period.
I am sure the number of requests will rise. I am also sure that the number of anti-government videos will increase far faster.
Critics of the government have the advantage.