Censorship is back in fashion as Google states that takedown requests from governments around the world are on the up.

In a trend that it describes as "troubling", Google notes that some government agencies have been asking it to "remove political content that users had posted".

Dorothy Chou, senior policy analyst at Google, explained that they had originally thought that these requests were anomalies, or even accidents. But no:

"This is the fifth data set that we've released. And just like every other time before, we've been asked to take down political speech," wrote Chou.

Freedom

"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."

She went on to list two examples - Spain and Poland - neither of whose requests were fulfilled.

The search engine began publishing its Transparency Report two years ago to publicly track removal requests and data requests from governments and rights holders as well as overall traffic to Google products.

The report also shows how often governments and courts around the world request user data - unsurprisingly, the US leads the charge in this arena, clocking up 6,321 requests, of which 93 per cent Google complied with.