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Take that back

Posted by: Laurence Simons 26/06/12

Into the murky legal depths of the internet, and to Holland, where they are doing their best to delete great big swathes of it. Well, not great big swathes - the internet, like an ocean, is huge. But little chunks, at least. And according to search giant Google, the majority of those little chunks are taken down due to notices issued for political reasons.

"Just like every other time before, we've been asked to take down political speech," said Google policy analyst Dorothy Chou. "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." And the Netherlands heads the list of ‘surprisingly uptight about YouTube comments' countries, joining the Ukraine, Jordan and Bolivia as nations issuing a spike of take downs. Google comply with around 65 per cent of the requests.

For those with a legal finger in the internet pie, the figures will come as interesting news, and mark a groundswell of governments trying their damndest to police the wilds of the web. Elsewhere in Europe, UK libel reforms tacked on to defamation laws are hoping to out anonymous cyber bullies (or 'trolls') and leave them open to prosecution, while experts warn of a shortage of cyber security professionals - like marines, only wearing Metallica t-shirts - to protect businesses and governments alike from online attacks. What does it all mean for lawyers? Well, until a landmark privacy battle, 2012 could be a long year of drafting take down notices and trying to figure out what a cookie is.

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