2.4m URLs marked for takedown under Google Right to be Forgotten

Monday, 19 March, 2018

According to the latest transparency report for Google Right to be Forgotten, since 2014 the internet giant got requests to remove 2.4 million URLs but had taken down less than half.

The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ was a legal precedent set by the European Court of Justice in 2014.

A case brought by Spaniard Mario Gonzalez asked for Google to remove information about his financial history.

According to Google’s internal report, over the last four years 654,876 requests were made, with 2,437,271 URLs singled out for delisting.

Google said they had removed 44% of URLs. In the UK just 38% had been removed.

French connection

87% of requests came from individuals, and according to the report, a French directory of professional people was the most affected with 7,701 URLs delisted.

Facebook had 6,846 and Twitter had 5,476 removed.

Google reported that 18% of requests related to professional information and 6% to crime.

And there are differences according to country. For instance, in the UK we are three times more likely to go after news sources, while the French and Germans go for social media and directory pages.

Incidentally, these three EU countries accounted for more than half of all URL delisting requests.

Takedown time

While EU citizens can now request delisting, Google does not have to comply.

Instead the company appoints at least one reviewer for each request who decide to delist or not based on whether the information is ‘inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive.’

They can also refuse if there is a pubic interest in the information remaining online.

The issue of which URLs Google decides to delist came under scrutiny with a recent High Court case.

The unnamed claimant wanted information about a 1990s conviction for conspiracy to false accounting removed from the search engine’s results.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the defendant’s conviction is deemed to have been spent. But the case has been seen as a landmark in the debate over the ‘Right to be Forgotten.’

Due to come into force this May, the General Data Protection Regulation should make it far easier for citizens to have their content removed.

MAIN IMAGE: Carlos Luna/CC BY 2.0

Tim Bamford author picture


Tim is a veteran freelance journalist writing extensively on internet news and cybersecurity.