Censorship by Google: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Censorship by Google refers to Google Inc.'s removal or omission of information from its services or subsidiary companies, such as YouTube, in order to comply with its company policies, legal demands, or various government censorship laws.[1]


Web search


Google commonly censors search results to comply with Digital Millennium Copyright Act-related legal complaints.[2]

In 2002 Google was found to have censored websites that provided information critical of Scientology, in compliance with the United States' DMCA legislation.[3][4] Google replaced the banned results with links to the DMCA complaint that caused the site to be removed. The DMCA complaint contains the site to be removed, and the organizations that requested the removal. The publicity stemming from this incident was the impetus for Google's making public of the DMCA notices on the Chilling Effects archive, which archives legal threats made against Internet users and Internet sites.[5]

United Kingdom

On 21 September 2006,[6] it was reported that Google had 'delisted' Inquisition 21st Century, a website which claims to challenge moral authoritarian and sexually absolutist ideas in the United Kingdom. According to Inquisition 21, Google was acting "in support of a campaign by law enforcement agencies in the US and UK to suppress emerging information about their involvement in major malpractice", allegedly exposed by their own investigation of and legal action against those who carried out Operation Ore, a far reaching and much criticized law enforcement campaign against the viewers of child pornography.[7] Google released a press statement suggesting Inquisition 21 had attempted to manipulate search results.[6]

Germany and France

On October 22, 2002, a study reported that approximately 113 Internet sites had been removed from the German and French versions of Google.[8] This censorship mainly affected White Nationalist, Nazi, anti-semitic, radical Islamic websites and at least one fundamentalist Christian[9] website. Under French and German law, hate speech and Holocaust denial are illegal. In the case of Germany, violent or sex-related sites such as YouPorn and BME that the Bundesprüfstelle für jugendgefährdende Medien deems harmful to youth are also censored.

Google has complied with these laws by not including sites containing such material in its search results. However, Google does list the number of excluded results at the bottom of the search result page and links to Chilling Effects for explanation.[1]


Google adheres to the Internet censorship policies of China,[10] enforced by means of filters colloquially known as "The Great Firewall of China". Google.cn search results are filtered so as not to bring up any results concerning the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, sites supporting the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan, the Falun Gong movement, and other information perceived to be harmful to the People's Republic of China (PRC).

The Chinese government has restricted citizens to popular search engines such as Altavista, Yahoo!, and Google in the past. This complete ban has since been lifted. However, the government remains active in filtering Internet content. In October 2005, Blogger and access to the Google Cache were made available in mainland China; however, in December 2005, some mainland Chinese users of Blogger reported that their access to the site was once again restricted.

In January 2006, Google confirmed its intent to filter certain keywords given to it by the government of the China. The restrictions apply to thousands of terms and websites.[11] Google has claimed that some censorship is necessary in order to keep the Chinese government from blocking Google entirely, as occurred in 2002.[12] The company claims it does not plan to give the government information about users who search for blocked content, and will inform users that content has been restricted if they attempt to search for it. Searchers may encounter a message which states: "In accordance with local laws and policies, some of the results have not been displayed." [13] As of 2009, Google is the only major China-based search engine to explicitly inform the user when search results are blocked or hidden.

Some Chinese Internet users have been critical of Google for assisting the Chinese government in repressing its own citizens, particularly those dissenting against the government and advocating for human rights [14].

Google has been denounced and called hypocritical by Reporters Without Borders for agreeing to China's demands while simultaneously fighting the United States government's requests for similar information.[15]

On February 14, 2006, protesters organized in a "mass breakup with Google" whereby users agreed to boycott Google on Valentine's Day to show their disapproval of the Google China policy.[16][17]

In June 2009, Google was ordered by the Chinese government to block various overseas websites, including some with sexually explicit content. Google was criticized by the China Illegal Information Reporting Center(CIIRC) for allowing search results that included content that was sexual in nature, claiming the company was a dissemination channel for a “huge amount of porn and lewd content”.[18]

On January 12, 2010, in response to an apparent hacking of Google's servers in an attempt to access information about Chinese dissidents, Google announced that “we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.”[19] However, subsequent to the announcement, http://www.Google.cn search results remain censored, with Google “declin[ing] to say when the company planned to stop censoring google.cn results.” [20]

Global Search Suggestions

In January 2010, Google was reported to have stopped providing automatic suggestions for any search beginning with the term "Islam is", while it continued to do so for other major religions. [21] According to Wired.com, an unnamed Google spokesman stated, “this is a bug and we’re working to fix it as quickly as we can.” [22] Suggestions for "Islam is" were available later that month. The word "Bilderberg" and the family name "Buchanan" were also reportedly censored in the auto-complete results,[23][24] but were available by February of 2010 as well.[citation needed] Certain terms continue to be censored, such as those with entries that yield potentially offensive search suggestions, like those including sexual profanity or racial slurs.[citation needed]

News search

Sites critical of Islam

In early 2006 Google removed several news sites from its news search engine because complaints were received about various articles that were critical of Islam.[25][26] These included the The New Media Journal, which contained phrasing such as, "[in the] world of Islam ... it is common for the men to have multiple wives, and harvest many children with each of his wives to train for martyrdom." MichNews and The Jawa Report were among the other sites removed from Google News. These sites do remain accessible from Google's main search page as normal. Google responded to the change by stating, "We do not allow articles and sources expressly promoting hate speech viewpoints in Google News, although referencing hate speech for commentary and analysis is acceptable".


YouTube--a video sharing website and subsidiary of Google--in its Terms of Service prohibits the posting of videos which violate copyrights or depict pornography, illegal acts, gratuitous violence, or hate speech .[27] User-posted videos that violate such terms may be removed and replaced with a message stating: "This video has been removed due to terms of use violation".

YouTube blocked the account of Wael Abbas, an activist who posted videos of police brutality, voting irregularities and anti-government demonstrations.[28] His account was subsequently restored. YouTube also removed a video produced by the American Life League which is critical of Planned Parenthood. It has since been restored.[29]

In 2006, Thailand blocked access to YouTube for users with Thai IP addresses. Thai authorities identified 20 offensive videos and demanded that Google remove them before it would unblock any YouTube content.[1] In 2007 a Turkish judge ordered access to YouTube blocked because of content that insulted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a crime under Turkish law.[1] On February 22, 2008, Pakistan Telecommunications attempted to block regional access to YouTube following a government order. The attempt subsequently caused a worldwide YouTube blackout that took 2 hours to correct. Four days later, Pakistan Telecom lifted the ban after YouTube removed controversial religious comments made by a Dutch government official[30] concerning Islam.[31]

In October 2008, YouTube removed a video by Pat Condell titled Welcome to Saudi Britain; in response his fans re-uploaded the video themselves and the National Secular Society wrote to YouTube in protest.[32] The video was eventually restored.[33] During the December 2008 Gaza Strip airstrikes, YouTube removed videos of air strikes against Hamas that were posted by the IDF.[34] During the 2008-2009 Gaza airstrikes, many videos that were criticizing Israel's actions in Gaza were being removed by Pro-Israeli groups such as The JIDF.

On November 5, 2009 YouTube cancelled the account and all videos from Michael Patton of dogtv.com after Patton uploaded a short documentary style video [35] on his experience over the years with dogs, two of whom were fighting to the death until they were trained not to do so by Patton. In another blocked video, the camera caught a spontaneous dog attack on another dog. The fight is quickly stopped before any harm is done and instructions are given on how to break up dog fights which inevitably occur in multiple dog households.

Google Maps

In March 2007, allegedly lower resolution satellite imagery on Google Maps showing post-Hurricane Katrina damage in the U.S. state of Louisiana was replaced with higher resolution images from before the storm.[36] Google's official blog of April revealed that the imagery was still available in KML format on Google Earth or Google Maps.[37][38] In March 2008, Google removed street view and 360 degree images of military bases per the Pentagon's request.[39] The Google maps application on Apple's iPhone refers to the Persian Gulf as the "Islamic Gulf", a term which is not recognized by any mainstream international body. Google maps also censor or intentionally replace "Persian Gulf", which is the official cultural and UN sanctioned name of the body of water between Iran, and the Arabian countries of the Gulf, with the term "Arabo-Persian" Gulf, which is not recognized internationally either.[40] Google Maps has also created the term "Arabian Gulf" which is also not internationally recognized, and presents a zoomed in coastal area view of the shores of the Persian Gulf states of UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, when a search for "Arabian Gulf" is entered.


In February 2003, Google stopped showing the adverts of Oceana, a non-profit organization protesting a major cruise ship operation's sewage treatment practices. Google cited its editorial policy at the time, stating "Google does not accept advertising if the ad or site advocates against other individuals, groups, or organizations."[41] The policy was later changed.[42]

In April 2008, Google refused to run ads for a UK Christian group opposed to abortion, explaining that "At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content.'"[43]

Shareholder initiatives

On May 10, 2007, shareholders of Google voted down an anti-censorship proposal for the company. The text of the failed proposal stated that:

  1. Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in Internet-restricting countries, where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.
  2. The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.
  3. The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.
  4. Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.
  5. Users should be informed about the company's data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.
  6. The company will document all cases where legally binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

David Drummond, senior vice president for corporate development, said "Pulling out of China, shutting down Google.cn, is just not the right thing to do at this point... but that's exactly what this proposal would do."[44]

CEO Eric Schmidt and founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recommended that shareholders vote against the proposal. Together they hold 66.2 percent of Google's total shareholder voting power, meaning that they could themselves have declined the anti-censorship proposal.[45]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Google’s Gatekeepers". New York Times. 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/magazine/30google-t.html?_r=1&partner=rss&emc=rss&pagewanted=all. Retrieved 2008-12-01. 
  2. ^ Chilling Effects Clearinghouse > Notices > Keyword : Google and the DMCA
  3. ^ "GOOGLE, Censorship and Scientology?". F.A.C.T.net. 21 MARCH 2002. http://www.factnet.org/Scientology/Google_Scientology.html. 
  4. ^ Google bows to Scientology's DMCA request, yanks critics' site
  5. ^ Marti, Don (April 12, 2002). "Google Begins Making DMCA Takedowns Public". Linux Journal. http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/5997. 
  6. ^ a b Sherriff, Lucy (21 September 2006). "Google erases Operation Ore campaign site". The Register. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/09/21/google_delists_inq21/. 
  7. ^ http://www.inquisition21.com/index.php?module=announce&ANN_user_op=view&ANN_id=287
  8. ^ Zittrain, Jonathan; Edelman, Benjamin. "Localized Google search result exclusions: Statement of issues and call for data." Harvard Law School: Berkman Center for Internet & Society. October 22, 2002.
  9. ^ http://www.google.fr/#hl=fr&source=hp&q=site%3Ajesus-is-lord.com&btnG=Recherche+Google&meta=&aq=f&oq=site%3Ajesus-is-lord.com&fp=f25d641c6f119a4d
  10. ^ "BBC NEWS". news.bbc.co.uk. 2006-01-25. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4645596.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  11. ^ Liedtke, Michael. "Google Agrees to Censor Results in China." Breitbart.com. January 24, 2006.
  12. ^ The Great Wall: China Against the World, 1000 Bc - AD 2000
  13. ^ "Google move 'black day' for China." BBC News. January 25, 2006.
  14. ^ Students for a Free Tibet. "Google: Stop participating in China's Propaganda." [1]
  15. ^ "Google bows to Chinese censorship with new search site - Forbes.com". www.forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/home/feeds/afx/2006/01/25/afx2474703.html. Retrieved 2008-01-31. 
  16. ^ Fung, Amanda. "Midtown protest targets Google's China site." New York Business. February 14, 2006.
  17. ^ NO LUV 4 Google Website.
  18. ^ http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/42933/118/
  19. ^ Official Google Blog. "A new approach to China" January 12, 2010
  20. ^ Goodin, Dan. "One month later, Google still censors China search." 'The Register. February 10, 2010.
  21. ^ http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/01/google_is_being_sensitive.php
  22. ^ http://www.wired.com/epicenter/2010/01/google-islam-censorship/
  23. ^ http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Web+Search/thread?tid=4a89411ff9f1d459&hl=en
  24. ^ http://isteve.blogspot.com/2010/01/google-no-like.html
  25. ^ Google Censors New Media Journal for Hate Speech against Islam
  26. ^ Google News Bootings: Real Extremism or Just Bad Taste?
  27. ^ "YouTube Community Guidelines". YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  28. ^ YouTube stops account of Egypt anti-torture activist
  29. ^ YouTube Reinstates Pro-life Show After Removal | NewsBusters.org
  30. ^ Pakistan Drops YouTube Ban | CBS News.com
  31. ^ Pakistan welcomes back YouTube | Tech news blog - CNET News.com
  32. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3130883/YouTube-censors-comedians-anti-Sharia-video-called-Welcome-to-Saudi-Britain.html
  33. ^ Welcome to Saudi Britain
  34. ^ Israel posts video of Gaza air strikes on YouTube AFP, December 30, 2008
  35. ^ http://dogdvd.com/video/APP1.wmv
  36. ^ "House panel: Why did Google 'airbrush history?'". Associated Press. 2007-03-31. http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/03/31/katrina.google.maps.ap/index.html. 
  37. ^ "Post-Katrina images of New Orleans on Google Maps". Google. 2005-09-02. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/09/post-katrina-images-of-new-orleans-on.html. 
  38. ^ "About the New Orleans imagery in Google Maps and Earth". Google. 2007-04-02. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2007/04/about-new-orleans-imagery-in-google.html. 
  39. ^ Eric Zeman (2008-03-07). "Google Caves To Pentagon Wishes". Information Week. http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2008/03/google_caves_to.html. 
  40. ^ "Google Renames Persian Gulf". 2008-15-02. http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/25098. 
  41. ^ "Google Somewhat Lifts Oceana Ad Ban". webpronews.com. 2004-05-17. http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2004/05/17/google-somewhat-lifts-oceana-ad-ban. 
  42. ^ "Google AdSenseTM Online Standard Terms and Conditions". Google AdSense. https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en_US/Terms.html. Retrieved 2007-05-09. 
  43. ^ Simon, Caldwell (2008-04-09). "Christian group sues Google after search engine refuses to take its abortion adverts". London: Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=558177&in_page_id=1770. Retrieved 2008-04-08. "[Google's] Dublin-based advertising team replied: At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content.'" 
  44. ^ Larkin, Erik (2007-05-10). "Google Shareholders Vote Against Anti-Censorship Proposal". PC World. http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,131745-pg,1/article.html. 
  45. ^ PC World:Google Asks Shareholders to Permit Censorship

External links

Simple English

Censorship by Google refers to Google removal of informations from its services to comply with Censorship, company policies, etc.

Web Search


In 2002 Google had censored search results about Scientology

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