Google Transparency Report shows censorship spike, details takedown requests

Governments are getting nosier than ever, at least if you ask Google. The search firm has already noticed rapidly mounting censorship in recent months, but its latest half-year Transparency Report has revealed a 26 percent surge in takedown requests toward the end of 2012 -- at 2,285 total, more than twice as many as in 2009. Much of the jump can be attributed to Brazil, whose municipal election triggered a rush of anti-defamation requests from candidates, as well as a Russian blacklisting law that allows for trial-free website takedowns.

Whether or not the heat dies down in 2013, we'll have a better sense of just what happens when a YouTube request comes down the pipe. From now on, Google will say whether government-based demands to remove videos were based on YouTube's Community Guidelines or were directly linked to regional laws. Google isn't any more inclined to comply with such requests -- it argues those Brazilian clips are free speech, for example -- but we'll have a better sense of just how easy it is for the company to say no.