Pakistan at 8th spot in list of countries which sought removal of online content, India at 1st: report

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India tops the list of countries which sent the most number of content removal requests to some of the world’s biggest tech companies in the last 10 years, as per a report released by Comparitech on Tuesday.

Pakistan stands 8th on the list, with Russia and Turkey also among the top three.

The report by the UK-based tech research firm is based on data collated from the transparency reports of tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Twitter. These transparency reports detail the number of content removal requests the companies receive from courts and government agencies across the world.

Summarising its findings after analysing the data from 2009 until 2019, Comparitech said it found that “Some governments avidly try to control online data, whether this is on social media, blogs, or both.”

With 77,620 requests, India tops the list of 20 countries which sent the most number of content removal requests to Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Wikimedia. Pakistan sent 9,771 such requests during the past decade.

Top 20 countries by overall number of content removal requests

  1. India – 77,620
  2. Russia – 77,162
  3. Turkey – 63,585
  4. France – 49,971
  5. Mexico – 25,036
  6. Brazil – 17,346
  7. Germany – 13,366
  8. Pakistan – 9,771
  9. United States – 9,574
  10. United Kingdom – 6,402
  11. Israel – 5,527
  12. South Korea – 4,445
  13. China – 4,374
  14. Italy – 3,867
  15. Austria – 2,928
  16. Japan – 2,138
  17. Vietnam – 1,964
  18. Thailand – 1,901
  19. Spain – 1,592
  20. Argentina – 1,575

India sent most content removal requests to Facebook

Among the countries that asked Facebook to remove content most frequently between July 2013 and December 2018, India tops the list by a large margin.

With 70,815 requests, Facebook is where the vast majority of the Indian government’s content removal requests go (91.23pc of the country’s total of 77,620).

France is 2nd on this list with 42,989 requests while Mexico stands third with 24,872 requests. Pakistan, with 8,881 requests, is at the 6th spot.

What kind of content removal requests is Twitter receiving?

  • Turkey: “We received a court order demanding the removal of 24 allegedly defamatory Tweets related to a book written about the owner of a well-known construction company in Turkey. Upon review, 17 Tweets had already been deleted by the users and 1 account did not exist. We objected to the court order for the remainder of the reported content on the basis of its newsworthiness and prevailed. Therefore we took no further action.” (Jul-Dec 2018)
  • Russia: “We received the first Periscope removal request from Roskomnadzor concerning a prisoner’s account. Citing Article 82 of the Russian Criminal Executive Code, the reporter asked us to ‘block the account from which the violating broadcast was made’. However, the reported account had no broadcasts, so we did not take any action.” (Jan-Jun 2017)
  • France: “We withheld one Tweet in response to a legal demand from the Office Central de Lutte contre la Criminalité liée aux Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication (OCLCTIC) for the glorification of terrorist attacks.” (Jul-Dec 2017)

Which year saw the most Twitter content removal requests?

The biggest jump in Twitter content removal requests came in 2013 when there were 435 removal requests (an 806 per cent increase on 2012’s 48 requests). The majority of these requests (312 or 72%) came from France.

However, the largest number of content removal requests came last year with 23,464 (an 84% increase in the previous year). In this instance, France only made up just over 1 per cent of the requests. Rather, it was Russia and Turkey who made up 21.25 and 59.67 per cent of the requests in 2018, respectively.

Again, we can clearly see ongoing growth in the number of content requests being made with significant jumps most years except for from 2016 to 2017 when there was only a 14.54 per cent increase in the number of requests being made.