For some time now, Google been lauded for publishing its transparency report, a detailed account of all the company’s takedown requests. Google receives hundreds of these per year from content companies, individuals, and governments across the world. Though the information is easily available, navigating it can be cumbersome. That’s why Berlin-based designer Sebastian Sadowski came up with this visualization.
Unsurprisingly, web search is the most censored Google product due to sheer volume, with defamation the most common reason for removal. In the United States, requests for removal for “national security” reasons are virtually nonexistent, though there are no specific parameters for what differentiates “national security” from “privacy and security.”
Most notable though, is the substantial rise in government requests, across the board. According to Sadowski and Google’s Transparency reports, there were 7,047 removal requests worldwide between July 2010 and December 2012, however, more than 32% of those requests (2,285) were received between July and December 2012, demonstrating a rapid rise in late 2012. Just in the United States, Google notes a 34% rise in government-led removal quests the last six months of 2012.
As BuzzFeed has previously noted, Google has been working to comply with fewer of these government requests, taking action only when absolutely necessary. However, just as is the case with government-led user data requests, the substantial increase in the frequency means that even with lower compliance rates, Google is censoring more of its material across more products than ever before.