49% Increase in Content removal requests from India to Google

Google has released is latest update on its transperancy report. It basically catalogs the number of of requests made to Google to remove content by various government and non-government agencies from around the world. This could be content from hosted on Google properties like YouTube, Picassa, Google+, Blogger and more.

Many of these requests are actually made by government agencies for various reasons which include copyright, impersonation, national security, hate speech and more.

In the report, the number of requests made by Indian government (which includes local agencies, court orders and police) went up by 49% from the previous 6 months.

Between January to June 2011, there were a total 68 content removal requests. In the next six months from July to December 2011, there were a total of 101 requests.

Also only 5 of these requests were backed up by a court order while the rest were from different administrative agencies.

Internet Censorship and Content Removal Requests!

Usual assumption is that when a government increases the number of content removal requests from Google, it is trying to clamp down on the internet. Internet censorship has recently grabbed many headlines in India with ministers demanding manual scanning of all content on social media, to courts threathening to ban social media websites.

Just over a week ago, many Indian cities had protests against online censorship, egged on by the popular hacktivist group Anonymous.

Interestingly, India is not the only country to see a spurt in government requested content removal requests. United States also increased the number of requests from 92 to 187.

Check out the link below which is a compilation of data collected by Google about all the requests they receive about content removal.

Also do drop in your comments and views.

Link: Google Transparency Report – Removals

Wikipedia to Protest Against SOPA With a Blackout Tomorrow!

The technology world has been buzzing with talks of protests over the past month over SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), a law that is being discussed in the U.S. Another law called Protect IP Act (PIPA) has also many tech giants worried. Internet companies fear that SOPA and PIPA will also kill free speech and innovation which is central for these internet companies along with the internet in general.

If you visit Wikipedia tomorrow, there is a good chance that this screen will greet users.

WIkipedia_blackout_Design

Blackout Protest against SOPA…

A couple of weeks ago, Reddit announced it was going to protest SOPA by blocking its own content for a single day on 18th January 2011. The idea is to show users what the internet could be like if SOPA and PIPA went through to become a law.

Today, Wikipedia has decided to follow Reddit and will blackout their website to show protest against the bill. There are many websites which will be going black to protest but the Wikipedia is the most popular one today. Here is a list of all the websites that have confirmed a blackout.

Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia, announced the participation of Wikipedia in English to have a blackout in a tweet.

JimmyWales_wiki_blackout

Online activism has got a lot of people involved in protesting SOPA. GoDaddy was one of the rare tech companies to support SOPA initially. It led to user backlash with thousands of website owners moving to another service. The episode turned out to be a complete PR disaster for GoDaddy.

The argument is age old: Should a website be held responsible for user-generated content? For example should blogger.com or WordPress.com which host millions of blogs be responsible for someone publishing content to which they do not have copyright over? We have seen the lack of understanding of such processes.

Look up this infographic to understand how SOPA will work!

We will have to wait and watch throughout the day to see if more prominent websites like Facebook, Google and others could join Wikipedia in a blackout tomorrow.

Do drop in your comments.

Link: Wikipedia Press Release

Story of GoDaddy’s PR Disaster Over SOPA

Yesterday we featured an infographic on SOPA, that explained how it would impact internet companies. GoDaddy.com the domain registry and hosting service was one of the few prominent internet companies that supported SOPA.

Twitter, Facebook were rife with the news that the only big internet company supporting SOPA seems to be GoDaddy and people were boycotting it. In an act of online activism, users started to move their domains from GoDaddy to other services.

The Fall out against GoDaddy

Upto 21,000 domains were lost by GoDaddy in a single day. Also with a tweet by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales suggesting that they would be moving Wikipedia domain names away from GoDaddy, has given more power to people boycotting GoDaddy.

jimmy_wales_SOPA

It seems that GoDaddy’s pro-SOPA stand would not just earn it criticism but also business as if people stopped using GoDaddy to register domains, it could be a huge issue.

GoDaddy Now Goes Anti-SOPA

The CEO of GoDaddy probably realized the issue was now snowballing out of proportion and decided to change GoDaddy’s position on SOPA. The reversal in their position has also been criticized and it seems GoDaddy is moving towards a complete PR disaster.

Online Activism against SOPA

The soap opera of SOPA seems to be panning out over the new few weeks or months, depending on the outcome. Online activism is at it’s highest against the Bill at the moment. Many experts are suggesting that SOPA will be used to bring censorship to the internet. Such activism has ensured that critically important laws like SOPA do address the concerns of the internet community.

It has also led to online tools like ByeDaddy that allow people to check if domain names are registered with GoDaddy.

I am not from the US, nor understand laws like an expert, so I would not like to take a stand on SOPA. But I think even if something is perceived as online censorship; it needs to be discussed and debated a great deal. I do think there is probably something wrong with SOPA if so many internet companies are opposing it across the board. What are your views?

Do drop in your comments.

Indian Government Flip-flops on Internet Censorship!

Online_CensorshipAccording to news reports India’s Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal asked internet companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo to screen content which may be deemed inflammatory.

While the Indian government has regularly made noises about online content being screened, the suggestion from the minister that human beings should be used to screen content instead of automatic checks. This demand is a little strange and quite impractical.

With over millions of hours of video content generated and billions of blog posts published a year, it would require thousands of people to actually screen such content manually.

What is more interesting is that the government has not defined what is inflamatory and is asking the companies to take do it themselves.

Criticism for the move

Kapil Sibal’s comment have been made fun of on social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. It is ironic that what he set out of control was dished out to him.

Politicians are often criticized about their views and made fun of on social media websites. It is next to impossible to try and control the internet.

Clarifications have come in that the government is not looking to censor online content. I guess we have not heard the last of this issue as most governments around the world are looking for some sort of control over content.

I do not like any sort of censorship on the internet. It kills creativity and dialogue. In my opinion governments should not try to find ways to censor or control the internet but actually use internet tools to reach out to people and get their opinions.

What are your views? Do drop in your comments.

(via Economic Times)

Image Credit: daviddicke.com