Google’s senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou recently warned us about internet censorship coming from Western democracies. Sure, we are used to hearing about censorship in parts of the world where there is an authoritarian regime in but this news is a new concern which should be taken seriously in democratic societies.
Of note, the US content removal requests increased by 103% including alleged defamatory comments aimed at law enforcement officials in a personal capacity. Google for its part complies with some of these requests based on local laws and its own policies against things like hate speech.
In Spain, the search leader received requests to remove 270 search results linking to blogs linking to individuals and public figures. While in Poland Google received a request to remove a search result criticizing the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development.
The point here is when information is electronic and under the control of a few large companies, it becomes easier for governments to censor that information. Google has done an exemplary job of shining light on these issues – let’s hope voters consider them when electing their politicians as once freedom to hear all points of view is lost, it is tremendously difficult to get it back.