How Google handles “right to be forgotten” requests

Google has released a new report on its implementation of “right to be forgotten” requests, and has revealed that it has removed 58.7 percent of the URLs it was asked to drop from search results.

This report is an updated version of the initial one released in October 2014, roughly five months after the Court of Justice of the European Union decided that European users have a “right to be forgotten” by search engines.

“In evaluating a request, we will look at whether the results include outdated or inaccurate information about the person. We’ll also weigh whether or not there’s a public interest in the information remaining in our search results—for example, if it relates to financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or your public conduct as a government official (elected or unelected),” the company explains.

“URLs are only removed from results in response to queries relating to an individual’s name. So, if we granted a request to remove an article for John Smith about his trip to Paris, we would not show the result for queries relating to [john smith] but we would show it for a query like [trip to paris].”

The company offered some examples of granted and rejected requests in order.

For example, they granted a woman’s request to remove pages showing her address, a victim of rape’s request to remove a link to a newspaper article about the crime, and an individual’s request to remove an article about an incident in relation to which he or she were convicted of a serious crime but whose conviction was ultimately quashed on appeal.

They rejected a priest’s request to remove articles reporting on his sentence and banishment from the church in the wake of a conviction for possession of child sexual abuse imagery, a man’s request to remove 20 links to articles about his arrest for financial crimes committed in a professional capacity, and a public official’s request to remove a link to a student organization’s petition demanding his removal.

The majority of the requests came from French, German, UK, Spanish and Italian citizens.

“Our process currently covers removal of results from our search properties, like Google Search, Image Search, Video Search, and Google News,” the company noted.

It’s also good to know that URLs are only removed from results for searches made on Google’s European domains.

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