A request from the T&T Government for the removal of ten videos currently posted on YouTube has been declined. The videos are parodies which feature Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Attorney General Anand Ramlogan.
Nine of the videos feature Persad-Bissessar dancing with a bottle in hand, while Ramlogan is featured in an interview which took place last year with Head of News at TV6 Dominic Kalipersad. In the heated interview with Kalipersad on the topic of the state of emergency, the veteran newsman admonished the AG at one point thus: "Please don't be rude." So far, the videos have generated more than 300,000 hits.
According to the search engine Google's Transparency Report, from January 2012-June 2012, T&T was among 19 countries requesting that videos be removed for alleged defamation. Among the other countries which requested that content be removed were the United States, China, India, Italy, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
The report states: "We received a request from legal representatives of a member of the executive branch to remove ten YouTube videos for alleged defamation. We did not remove content in response to this request."
Google said it also receives regular requests from copyright owners and reporting organisations which represent them, asking for material to be removed. "Like other technology and communications companies, Google regularly receives requests from government agencies and courts around the world to remove content from our services," Google said.
Noting that governments had asked Google to remove content for many different reasons, the search engine, which bought YouTube six years ago, said some content removals were requested because of allegations of defamation, "while others are due to allegations that the content violates local laws prohibiting hate speech or pornography. "Laws surrounding these issues vary by country, and the requests reflect the legal context of a given jurisdiction."
Google said there were numerous reasons why the requested content might not be removed. "Some requests may not be specific enough for us to know what the government wanted us to remove (for example, no URL is listed in the request), and others involve allegations of defamation through informal letters from government agencies, rather than court orders."
Google noted that occasionally, it had in the past received falsified court orders for content to be pulled from its site. However, once such requests have proven to be false (this is determined after rigorous checks), the request will not be complied with." Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed could not be reached for comment yesterday.