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Turkey has requested removal of massive amount of online content from Google in 10 years

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Turkish government agencies have requested the removal of a total of 90,400 web pages and other content from Google in the last decade, Voice of America (VOA) Turkish edition reported on Wednesday, citing data from a report by the virtual private network company Surfshark.

According to the report, 150 countries have submitted a total of 335,000 removal requests to Google in the last 10 years. These requests included the removal of 3,870,000 different websites and pages claimed to be “objectionable.”

Turkey was the fourth country, after Russia, North Korea and India, that most frequently requested the removal of content from Google, submitting 18,900 requests for the removal of 90,400 web pages and other content in 10 years, which corresponds to an average of 5 pieces of online content per day.

During the same period, Russia submitted a total of 215,000 content removal requests to Google, accounting for 85 percent of all requests. North Korea came in second, submitting 27,000 content removal requests to Google over the past decade, and India was in third place with 20,000 requests.

The report showed that “national security” is the most common reason cited by governments to get unwanted content removed, with 27 percent, followed by “copyright” (19 percent) and “defamation” (10 percent). Turkey leads in citing defamation as the reason, representing over a fifth of all defamation claims with more than 7,600 requests.

According to the report, the number of requests worldwide has increased approximately 13 times, rising from 7,000 annually to 91,000 in the past 10 years, or from 19 requests per day to 249.

Turkish authorities have in the last few years imposed restrictions on websites, social media accounts and posts covering news stories critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has led to accusations that freedom of expression has been curtailed.

A report from the Free Web Turkey platform also showed in late October that access to at least 40,536 URLs belonging to domains, social media posts and social media accounts were blocked in Turkey in 2022 in a sign of growing censorship by the ruling AKP.

The deterioration in internet freedoms in Turkey was also documented in a report published by the US-based Freedom House in early October which showed that internet freedom in Turkey has steadily declined over the past decade, with the country again ranking among the “not free” countries concerning online freedoms.

Turkey has a score of 30 on a 100-point index with scores being based on a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free) in Freedom House’s 2023 Freedom on the Net report.

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