Exactly one year ago, Google made Transparency Reports available for public on September 21, 2010. These reports do not include a detailed information about the blocked content but categorically mentions the number of requests received by different countries and its Governments. On its one year completion I thought its good time to share some information about it.
Bloggers and few publishers put a strong foot forward when Indian Government decided to block websites (including blogs) without any notice, which they fill is not suitable or could spread false information.
These include websites, criticizing Government, Defamation, Pornography, Impersonation, National Security, Privacy and Security, Hate Speech and more.
Update: Be sure to read the most latest updates at the bottom of this post
We can have a long debate over whether Internet censorship is good or not, like we used to do in schools about whether Television is a friend or an enemy. There are advantages and disadvantages, both.
Internet censorship is present since some time but it has evolved over times with Internet & technologies available for it. Yet, there is no perfect solution for Internet Censorship even if you wish for it.
Earlier, if a website was blocked in any country, the same information was available on other website which isn’t blocked. Searching on Google would have made it easier finding it. But now, blocking a website whether it is hosted in India or not & blocking information on Google products is possible.
We all read in news how china is blocking Google and Google services were not available in Egypt in recent unrest etc. Hence, put forward information to Google users – they decided to make these Transparency Reports public, while still maintaining an individual’s privacy.
Internet censorship is control or suppression of the publishing of or access to information on the Internet. It may be carried out by governments or by private organizations either at the behest of government or on their own initiative. Individuals and organizations may engage in self-censorship on their own or due to intimidation and fear.
Internet censorship in India
Internet censorship in India is selectively practiced by both federal and state governments. While there is no sustained government policy or strategy to block access to Internet content on a large-scale, measures for removing content that is obscene or otherwise objectionable, or that endangers public order or national security have become more common in recent years
According to Freedom House Report 2011, India’s overall Internet Freedom status is ‘Partly Free’ – scoring 36 on a scale from 0 (most free) to 100 (least free). This report also categorized few countries as ‘Enemies of the Internet’ and some countries as ‘Under surveillance’.
The Indian government plans to line up a centralized mechanism at the eight landing stations for the country for blocking websites as and when it pleases, together with a national intelligence grid where it will track all logs and web information in real-time, despite the fact that such an act may violate fundamental rights.
Recently, in March 2011 the Indian Govt. banned several websites without any notice and in July 2011, most of the file hosting websites were blocked by ISPs to prevent piracy of the film Singham.
Google Transparency Report
See Google Transparency Reports website for detailed information. These reports are updated every six months.
It would be too early to conclude this topic by simply saying it is Good or it is Bad – but certainly, having transparency reports like Google will help build confidence in the Internet policies of our Government.
Since, India is neither an enemy of the Internet nor under any surveillance (which is a good thing) – I don’t see any reason for not bring super high-speed Internet like Google Fiber.
Updated reports as of December 2011
The number of content removal requests from India have increased by 49% compared to the previous reporting year. This includes requests by Government Agencies, Brands and Bloggers.
Update: March 2014
As mentioned in the reports overview of Internet Censorship & Google’s Transparency Report, requests from the governments for online data have gone up by 120% since year 2009. I am liking how Google is making these stats public but still not fully convinced on these figures as I suppose the number of requests could be a lot more. What do you think?
How Google Responds To Data Requests
Here is an interesting video by Google on, how they respond to the data requests from Government organizations, investigators & by way of a search warrant & how they’re trying their best to protect users’ privacy.
What do you think? Send your comments