Google: one in four countries block our services

20 Apr 2010
censorship

Several of Google's services, including YouTube and search results, are blocked in countries around the world, the firm has said

Google claims 25 of the 100 countries where it offers services block its products in one form or another.

While the firm admitted countries such as China represented the “most polarising example” of internet restrictions, it also named several European and democratic nations that restrict content.

“Our policy is to comply with the laws of these democratic governments - for example, those that make pro-Nazi material illegal in Germany and France - and remove search results from only our local search engine,” said Rachel Whetstone, vice president of global communications and public affairs at Google, in a post on the company’s European Public Policy blog.

Whenever we do remove content, we display a message for our users that X number of results have been removed to comply with local law

“We also comply with youth protection laws in countries like Germany by removing links to certain material that is deemed inappropriate for children or by enabling Safe Search by default, as we do in Korea. Whenever we do remove content, we display a message for our users that X number of results have been removed to comply with local law.”

Whetstone added that all sites blocked by Google were reported to the chillingeffects.org project, run by a coalition of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a number of US universities, including Harvard, Stanford and Berkeley, which tracks online restrictions around the world.

The information reported to the site ranges from videos on Turkish YouTube that insult the country’s founder Mustafa Ataturk (which is illegal in Turkey) to cease and desist notices in the USA for links to copyrighted material.

Google said it was revealing these figures due to the large rise in internet censorship around the world. It highlighted recent statistics from the Open Net Initiative, which claims the number of countries censoring the internet has risen from four in 2002 to 40 in 2010, with nations such as China and Saudi Arabia being the worst offenders.

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