Saturday, June 25 2016

Google removed 640 YouTube videos that ‘promote terrorism’

BBC News and the Daily Telegraph have reported that Google’s latest Transparency Report reveals the company’s response to hundreds of requests from state authorities seeking the removal of videos from YouTube. Google removed 640 videos that allegedly promote terrorism after requests were made by the Association of Chief Police Officers.

From BBC News:

“Google has revealed it removed about 640 videos from YouTube that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK's Association of Chief Police Officers.

“The firm said it terminated five accounts linked to the suspect videos.

“However, the firm said it had rejected many other state's requests for action.

“But Google did act in hundreds of cases, including:

• requests to block more than 100 YouTube videos in Thailand that allegedly insulted its monarchy - a crime in the country
• the removal of a YouTube video that contained hate speech that had been posted in Turkey
• the termination of four YouTube accounts responsible for videos that allegedly contained threatening and harassing content after complaints by different US law enforcement agencies.

The article cites concerns from Google’s senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou that many of the requests are of a ‘political’ nature with impact on freedom of speech. She stated that, "It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect - Western democracies not typically associated with censorship."

Coverage in the Daily Telegraph further states that Google has “previously been criticised by politicians in Britain and the United States for hosting extremist propaganda on YouTube, its video sharing website”, giving the example of sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki.

The Telegraph adds that “Awlaki’s online sermons inspired Roshonara Choudhry, 21, to become the first al-Qaeda fanatic to attempt a political assassination in the UK when she stabbed MP Stephen Timms at his constituency surgery in May.”

Is the Telegraph inferring that all ‘extremist propaganda’ that inspires violent extremism should be removed from the internet? If one were to follow such logic, the question arises of what is to be made of the manifesto of the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, who was responsible for killing 77 people in Norway in July last year. His manifesto cited, amongst others, journalist Melanie Phillips (who has written of “the moral depravity of the Arabs”); Douglas Murray formerly of the Centre for Social Cohesion and now with the Henry Jackson Society (who has stated that “All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop."); Baroness Cox and Education Secretary Michael Gove. Breivik also boasted in his manifesto of his links to the EDL. Is one to assume then that the writings of these individuals or organisations should also be censored and removed from the internet?

Google’s Transparency Report states that in respect of requests lodged by ACPO, that the accounts were terminated and videos suspended “because they violated YouTube's Community Guidelines.

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