These countries made the most Google takedown requests this decade

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As the number of websites and online services that make up the internet continue to grow, so too do the number of takedown requests made by countries around the world.

After Google announced the number of content removal requests it receives from national governments and their agencies since 2009 in its annual Transparency Report, VPN provider Surfshark analyzed these files to spot any particularly intriguing trends.

According to its report, Russia had the most takedown requests of any country over the past decade, followed by Turkey, India, the US and Brazil.

Top requests

Although Russia had the most requests in the past decade, a quarter (25.39%) of its 123,6060 requests were made in 2020 alone, Surfshark reported. 

While Turkey and India also found a spot in the top three when it came to historical takedown requests with 14,231 and 9,989 respectively, both countries were nudged down a spot in 2020's figures by South Korea, which nearly doubled its previous tally with 2,397 requests in 2020. 

It's worth noting that a single 'request' can cover multiple pieces of content and that multiple requests can be made to take down the same content. For instance, Google took down 54,330 items on behalf of South Korea in 2020 which is 5.37 times more than the search giant took down for the US during the same period.

Content removal requests

When it comes to why countries are requesting that Google remove content from its search engine, national security was the top reason in Russia, the UK, France, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. 

Meanwhile in Turkey, India, the US, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Israel, Japan, Argentina and the Ukraine, defamation is the top reason governments have requested that content be removed. The governments of Spain, Australia, and the Netherlands cited privacy and security as their top reason for removing content while Canada and China stand out from the other 25 countries on Surfshark's list for citing fraud and violence respectively as for why they wanted content removed.

Content removal requests are applicable to all of Google's platform and not just search. In the past decade, YouTube actually saw more takedown requests (101,015) than Google Search did (60,898). Surprisingly, there were even several takedown requests in Google Docs, Gmail and Google Photos.

As Google is responsible for 91.66 percent of all search traffic (according to StatCounter), we can expect to see the number of takedown requests continue to increase as people around the world spend more time online. 

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.