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Tánaiste comments on Google Transparency Report

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., today responded to the release by Google of the latest data set for the Google Transparency Report, covering the period from July to December 2011:

“I commend Google for its contribution to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression, a basic building block of an open and free society. 

The Google Transparency Report clearly demonstrates the growing range and number of ‘take-down’ requests on the internet and will help to inform ongoing discussions about the appropriate scope and authority of content regulation online.  These are among the key issues that will be discussed over the next two days at the Dublin Conference on Internet Freedom, which my Department is organising in the context of Ireland’s Chairmanship of the OSCE during 2012. 

We are bringing together in Dublin Castle almost 300 representatives of governments, regional and international organisations, NGOs, senior figures in the ICT and media sectors, as well as human rights defenders, citizen journalists and bloggers. 

The rise in requests for removal of political speech and critical references to public authorities, as shown in the latest Google figures, is a particularly worrying trend.  I welcome the fact that Ireland, as a State, is demonstrated to be consistently among the most open and tolerant when it comes to freedom of expression on the internet, and that the number of take-down requests has been zero or less than 10 in each six-month period since Google started to publish data.

Of course, the data published by Google represents a compilation of data relating to just one company, albeit one of the largest. Ultimately, we need to consider how governments themselves can contribute to greater transparency on ‘take-down’ requests.”