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Jul 05, 2011, 11.22 PM IST | Source: CNBC-TV18

Is India silencing critics? Google Transparency stirs waves

Google has stirred up another storm in a tea cup with the Google Transparency Report. The report in itself is an interesting window into how different governments treat the issue of free speech, readily available information and content, reports CNBC-TV18s Ashwin Raghunath.

Google has stirred up another storm in a tea cup with the Google Transparency Report. The report is a complete list of elements that governments across the world have requested Google to remove. The report in itself is an interesting window into how different governments treat the issue of free speech, readily available information and content, reports CNBC-TV18s Ashwin Raghunath.

A lot of interesting trends emerge from the report. Google has been seen to be more responsive to countries like the US and Germany, sometimes removing up to 94% of the requests, while India just had about 25% of the requests complied with,

In India, Google reports that they received 67 requests from India to remove 282 items and more alarmingly they received 1699 requests on user data from the government wanting to study individuals, of which 79% was complied with.

Curiously, many of the ignored take-down requests pertained to critical pieces of writing about state chief ministers

While India might rank third and thereby, draw a frown from free speech advocates, there is irony in the complete lack of understanding that the governments are displaying in this issue.

One of the hard coded rules of the internet is that once content is on, it's close to impossible to remove it. However, looking at the number of search engines all around, if it isn't on Google, it will be in other places. Therefore, one can start with a Google take down request, but the question remains which search engine will one end.

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