Google received a total of 31,497 complaints from individual users in India via designated mechanisms from December 1 to December 31 last year, according to a transparency report published by the company. The company received 26,087 complaints from users in November 2021 which confirms an uptick in the number of complaints; the figure stood at 24, 579 in October suggesting that the complaints have been on the rise for over three months now.
These complaints are related to third-party content that is believed to violate local laws or personal rights on Google’s significant social media intermediary (SSMI) platforms, the company added.
The report revealed that a majority of the complaints (30,359) were related to copyright issues, which has been the trend over the past few months as well. The report does not include requests made by the government.
The break-up of complaints consists of the following categories:
- Other legal issues with 578 complaints (1.8 percent)
- Trademark with 258 complaints (0.8 percent)
- Defamation with 174 complaints (0.6 percent)
- Counterfeit with 81 complaints (0.3 percent)
- Court Order with 21 complaints (0.1 percent)
- Graphic Sexual Content with 11 complaints (0.0 percent)
- Circumvention with 11 complaints (0.0 percent)
- Impersonation at 4 complaints (0.0 percent)
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, mandate that significant social media intermediaries have to publish periodic compliance reports detailing complaints received from users in India and the actions taken by the platform to address these issues. It sheds light on how and why users raise complaints, and how Google responds to these complaints.
Google registers a 50 percent increase in removal actions
Based on grievances raised under Google’s community guidelines, content policies, and/or legal policies, the company saw a surge in removal actions in December as it removed over 61,114 pieces of content in November whereas October had 48, 594 instances of removal. The figure confirms an increase of more than 50 percent in December 2021 at a total of 94,171 items for removal.
Google, in December 2021, removed items from its platforms over the following reasons:
- Copyright: 93,693 items
- Trademark: 438 items
- Court Order: 37 items
- Graphic Sexual Content: 3 items
- Circumvention: 1 item
- Counterfeit: 1 item
The figures alongside ‘removal actions’ represent the number of items removed or restricted during the reporting period as a result of specific complaints. There were no removal actions based on complaints that fall under categories like impersonation, defamation, and legal reasons.
Google’s handling of complaints using Automated Detection
The company also used automated detection processes to take down 4,05,971 items in the month of December 2021. There has been a slight increase in removals through automated detection compared to November (3,75, 468).
These processes reportedly target the dissemination of harmful content such as child sexual abuse material and violent extremist content. The company can terminate a user’s access to Google services under these removal actions.
Google uses the following datasets for automated detection —
- Location data of the sender or creator of the content
- Location of account creation
- IP addresses at the time of video upload
- User phone numbers
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