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Google Transparency Report shows censorship spike, details takedown requests

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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.

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