In a case highlighted by Google as good fodder for a debate about freedom of expression, the Canadian government asked the Internet search empire last year to block public access to a YouTube video showing a man urinating on his Canadian passport.
But Google, judging the video an exercise in free speech, turned down the censorship request from Passport Canada, according to the U.S.-based company's latest "transparency report."
The report, the fifth to be issued since Google began the project in 2009, summarizes the company's responses to requests received from governments to remove links to web content alleged to be illegal, hateful, terrorism-promoting, or offensive.
The company said that between July and December 2011, it complied with 65 per cent of court orders to remove content - but with only 47 per cent of some 1,000 non-court requests from government agencies around the world; Google rejected 53 per cent of those, including the Passport Canada request.
"We received a request from the Passport Canada office to remove a YouTube video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet," stated the Google report, which disclosed details about the Canadian case as one of the highlights in its semi-annual summary for the last half of 2011. "We did not comply with this request."
The Canadian example was cited by Google, along with a handful of other requests from various countries - including Pakistan, Thailand and Poland - as representing a "troubling" pattern in which the search portal is being asked to sup-press political speech.
"Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different," said senior Google policy analyst Dorothy Chou said in a statement. "We noticed government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not."
Please login to add to favorites
Already added to favorites
Added as Favorite