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Relying on automated detection, Google removes 576,892 content from all platforms: July compliance report

Google received more complaints in July, over June, leading to more content removals

Google said that it removed over 576,892 items in India based on automated detection between July 1 and July 31. The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 mandate that significant social media intermediaries (SSMI) publish periodical compliance reports. The report mentions that the content has been removed from all its platforms, but it doesn’t specify which platforms are covered under this. The report carries both Google and YouTube logos.

In this monthly compliance report, the second of its kind since the IT Rules came into force on May 25, Google said that it is using automated technology to detect harmful content such as “child sexual abuse, violent extremist content’. For detection, Google is using data such as —

  • Location data of the content creator or sender. Note that Google says that senders or creators of content may attempt to evade detection through location-concealing mechanisms, and that reporting based on location attribution should be interpreted as a directional estimate.
  • Data signals such as location of account creation
  • IP address at the time of video upload
  • User phone number

95,680 items removed based on user made complaints; 99.1% removed on copyright violation

In addition to the content removal based on automated detection, Google removed 95,680 ‘items’ based on 36,934 user-made complaints. While most of the content that was removed were regarding copyright violations (99.1%), other items that were removed were based on court orders (0.0%), graphic sexual content (0.0%) and so on.

Majority of the complaints received, too, were pertaining to alleged copyright violations (35,678, 96.6%). Rest were on trademark infringement (1.3%), defamation (0.7%), court orders etc. Here is a comprehensive look at what was removed —

When we receive complaints from individual users regarding allegedly unlawful or harmful content, we assess each item to determine if the content violates our Community Guidelines or content policies, or meets local legal requirements for removal. The figure to the right shows the total number of removal actions taken during the one-month reporting period — Google Transparency Report (July)

Increase in content removal from June: In the previous Google Transparency Report for June, the company said that it had received 27,762 complaints; based on which it removed 59, 350.

A look into the data shows that there has been there was a 33.03 per cent increase in the number of complaints received from June to July. On the other hand, there was a 61.21 per cent increase in the number of content that was removed during the same time period.

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What do the IT Rules say?

Rule 4(d) of the Rules specify that Significant Social Media Intermediaries (who have more than 5 million users) must

publish periodic compliance report every month mentioning the details of complaints received and action taken thereon, and the number of specific communication links or parts of information that the intermediary has removed or disabled access to in pursuance of any proactive monitoring conducted by using automated tools or any other relevant information as may be specified;

“To allow sufficient time for data processing and validation, there will be a two-month lag for reporting,” Google had said in its June report, adding that it would include more granular data in subsequent reports.

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Among other subjects, I cover the increasing usage of emerging technologies, especially for surveillance in India

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