Aussie Government Keen To Yank Content From Google Groups

Aussie Government Keen To Yank Content From Google Groups

Google has just released its biannual figures on what content government bodies asked it to remove in the first six months of 2010. The biggest surprise? Just how many items on Google Groups were removed at the request of the Australian government.

Compared to the last six months of 2009, things haven’t changed that much in terms of the number of requests (17 this time, 14 last time), but Google complied with a lot more of them (almost 93% this time versus just over 50% last time). Whether that means the government got better at knowing what to ask for, or Google just felt like being nice/compliant, is anybody’s guess. In any event, we get a lot more detail this time around, with information on exactly how many sites, YouTube clips and other sources were impacted.

Google Transparency Report


  • I think it all depends on the content. If someone said ‘the Prime Minister is an idiot,’ then that is no reason to ask for it to be removed, but if it was a video on how to make a bomb then I can understand why it was removed.

  • Why did Google cave in to these asshats we call a government?

    They should simply have told our parasi…sorry, government to ‘bite them’.

    I have no tolerance for politicians who support censorship. ESPECIALLY when they are as technically ignorant as our lot are.

  • the only people that get to complain were those that didn’t for the ranga and her party … I would put money on it that this wouldn’t have happened under a liberal government … no internet filters ..

    sure u can have your wonderful NBN … but what are you going to do with the bandwidth when you have nothing to access?! Im sure that Norsefire and it’s fingermen will be here soon aswell …

    • As unpleasant as it is as a concept, filter isn’t law yet — the existing laws which allow content to be blocked (and make requests like this more likely to be granted) were passed by the Liberals when they were in power. So not much of an argument really (and you would lose your money).

      • Indeed, but you have to love labor bashing for what it is :\

        As distasteful as the idea of censorship is, there are some things we don’t need floating around in the public domain. How to make bombs is an overused example, but a valid one all the same.

        Can you imagine the results if some easily riled web user were to find the bomb plans on the internet and do something stupid at a school/sport stadium etc etc.

        This, as with most things, is an area where in a more “balanced” approach is probably best..

      • James, what about chemistry text books? They tell you exactly what chemicals react violently with other chemicals and many of these are found in common household items? Do we pull all of these too because someone could construct an explosive device or primitive chemical weapon? Your post shows the ignorance around censorship and the many misguided aims of it.

      • Yes Minister is not a documentary series. I presume that you were making a joke, or typed the wrong thing occidentally, but just to clarify, its a scripted TV series. Quite a funny one which perhaps highlights some important issues, but not a doco.

        The government is well within its right to ask Google to take down things, as is anyone, just as Google has every right to refuse. Most of it would usually need some justification for Google to comply.

        It is interesting to see what has been asked. Brazil only got 70% of requests complied with, and they seemed to have a few obscure ones.

        I’d be interested to know what the gmail ones concerned – short of an account owned by a terrorist group I can’t see what could be taken down, or what a government could have access too.

  • While the removal stats are interesting, the really worrying part is the ‘data’ requests that they don’t break down any further. that’s 200 separate users or occasions where the government demands details ‘about a user or service’ from google.

    They also don’t tell us how many of those requests were complied with. I’m guessing the numbers aren’t good.

  • If Google is making a transparency report, should our government do the same? Granted, somethings do need to be kept secret, military installations for example.

    I mean, until I read this, I did not know that my government (*I* cannot become sovereign) was doing said activities. If I wished to know, where would I look?

    Even when a ‘freedom of information’ request was made about the filter from a newspaper, 90% of the info was blacked out.

    This all very disturbing to learn.

    Damn you Orwell, you didn’t have to write that instruction manual.

  • I’d also like to see some breakdown on the justifications, which I don’t think would be “too sensitive” for Google to provide, but would reassure the intentions are above board. e.g.

    10% copyright infringement
    5% national security
    5% illegal pornography
    80% calling the PM an asshat

  • Taken from the Government Requests FAQ (

    “What do the numbers represent?

    These numbers represent the requests we received from government entities for the removal of content or the disclosure of user data in six-month blocks. There are limits to what this data can tell us. There may be multiple requests that ask for the removal of the same piece of content, or data for the same account. Because of the complexity of these requests, the numbers we are sharing do not reflect the total number of accounts subject to data disclosure requests by governmental agencies. Also, this report doesn’t indicate whether Google complied with or challenged any request for user information, although we do provide percentages about our compliance with requests to remove content. We hope to provide more detail about our compliance with user data requests in a useful way in the future.”

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