Science and Tech


Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree.
Posted at 10:19 PM, Jul 31, 2014

Google may be playing politics with its recent response letter to the Court of Justice of the European Union about how well it's following the "right to be forgotten" law. 

Just over a month ago, the CJEU ruled individuals have the "right to be forgotten," which forces search engines to take down digital information about a person upon their request. (Via InfoCuria, Euronews)

The court recently checked in with Google to see if it's been following the law, and Google replied by publicly posting this letter, revealing it's received more than 91,000 requests that more than 328,000 links be taken down. (Via Google)

But the letter is pretty light on details. Google doesn't actually say how many of those requests have been fulfilled. Instead, it says over half of the requests it's looked at have been accepted and removed — though it doesn't say how many it's looked at, either.

This was still a big step for the tech giant, considering its chilly reaction to the court's decision. The Economist reports Google called the ruling "disappointing" when it was first announced.   

Google may be trying to sway public opinion with this letter. It wasn't required to make the document public, after all. (Via Google)

The letter sort-of criticizes the law by discussed how people try to abuse the requests. "We have seen many cases of business competitors trying to abuse removals processes to reduce each others' web presence, so this corrective is important." (Via Google)

And as The Verge points out, Google's takedown process isn't fully explained. "Google doesn't, for instance, explain precisely how it determines what is an irrelevant link — which wouldn't legally have to be removed — as opposed to a relevant link, which would have to be removed."

We'll have to wait and see if the court is satisfied with this letter, or if they ask for more details.