Science and Tech


Google Evaluates 497,000 Links Under Right To Be Forgotten

Residents of the E.U. have petitioned Google to scrub nearly half a million links from its listings under Right to be Forgotten rules.
Posted at 10:25 AM, Oct 11, 2014

Google began compliance with the European Union's Right to be Forgotten May 29. Since then, the site has received requests to scrub nearly half a million links from its listings.

Under the Right to be Forgotten, EU residents can petition Google to get irrelevant or excessive links about themselves purged from Google’s listings — as long as the information isn’t in the public interest.

The company's latest transparency report shows it's granted more than half of those requests. Google breaks down requests by country and by target website. The most frequent removals have been links to Facebook.

"This is precisely the sort of thing – informative but not overly specific – that helps everyone see what's actually going on," says GigaOM.  "This information demonstrates the complexity of the situation."

You might remember a few months into Google's new policy, we highlighted concerns over the potential for censorship — that anyone in the EU could be unfairly influencing their own search results.

The European Commission has also been thinking about it. It's developing guidelines for web companies handling Right to be Forgotten requests. Until then, though, Google handles the process itself — which has its own set of problems. (Video via Euronews)

Bloomberg quotes one EU official, speaking earlier this week: "We can't leave it up to search engines to decide on the right balance between freedom of expression and right to be forgotten."

In the meantime, the idea is spreading. The Wall Street Journal reports Google complied with a Japanese court order earlier this week to delete links to articles that suggested a plaintiff had ties to criminal activity.

"The Tokyo court's decision was a provisional disposition, compared with a legislative order given by the European Union's highest court. Still, the ruling is likely to fuel debate around the globe among freedom of speech advocates and those who value privacy in cyber space."

Google's full transparency report, including all its Right to be Forgotten information, is available on its website.