Google publishes first transparency report in accordance with the new IT Rules

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on June 30, 2021


Received over 27,000 complaints from users in India in April

Google has received over 27,000 complaints related to third-party content from users in India via designated mechanisms in April 2021, according to its first transparency report published in accordance with the new IT rules.

The tech giant has published its first transparency report in accordance with the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (“IT Rules”).

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It will be publishing monthly transparency reports with details of complaints received from users in India and the actions taken thereon across Google’s platforms that are classified as “Significant Social Media Intermediaries” (“SSMIs”) under the new Rules.

The new rules which came into effect from May 26, 2021 define significant social media intermediaries as those platoforms with over 5 million registered users in India. The rules mandate these large social media companies to publish periodic compliance reports every month citing details of complaints received and action taken thereon.

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The first report published by the tech giant as part of these new rules outlines “the volume of complaints Google receives in India through its designated complaint channels each month and any subsequent removal action taken on complaints during that month relevant to SSMI products.”

Google further said that there will be a two-month lag for reporting to allow sufficient time for data processing and validation.

“In future reports, data on removals as a result of automated detection, as well as data relating to impersonation and graphic sexual content complaints received post May 25, 2021, will be included,” it said.

Complaints received from users in India

As per the report, the total number of complaints received from individual users located in India via designated mechanisms between April 1 to April 30 is 27,762. As per the FAQ section of the report, users can submit a complaint via Google’s Grievance Officer Landing Page for India.

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“These complaints relate to third-party content that is believed to violate local laws or personal rights on Google’s SSMI platforms. This data also includes individual user complaints accompanied by a court order,” it said in the report.

Of these complaints, a majority of complaints i.e. 96.2 per cent complaints were due to Copyright issues, followed by Trademark at 1.3 per cent. Other reasons cited for complaints included Defamation, Counterfeit and Circumvention.

Removal actions

The tech giant has taken 59,350 removal actions in total. The “removal actions” number represents the number of items where a piece of content was removed or restricted during the one-month reporting period as a result of a specific complaint, as per the FAQ section of the report.

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“Each unique URL in a specific complaint is considered an individual “item”. A single complaint may specify multiple items that potentially relate to the same or different pieces of content,” explained Google.

The volume of removal actions taken on items is the result of complaints received.

“When we receive complaints from individual users regarding allegedly unlawful or harmful content, we review the complaint to determine if the content violates our community guidelines or content policies, or meets local legal requirements for removal,” it further explained.

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98.4 per cent of removal actions were taken due to Copyright issues followed by Trademark at 1.6 per cent.

“We have a long history of providing transparency into the different types of requests we receive from around the world, and how we respond. All of these requests are tracked and included in our existing Transparency Report since 2010,” a Google spokesperson said.

“This is the first time we will publish a monthly transparency report in accordance with the new IT Rules, and will continue to publish more details as we refine our reporting processes for India,” the spokesperson further added.

Published on June 30, 2021

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