Thursday 22nd November 2018

Google has received 2.4 million ‘right to be forgotten’ requests since 2014

Georgina Elrington
by on 1st March 2018

In a post on its official blog, Google has announced it received 2.4 million “right to be forgotten” requests in the last three and a half years. It also stated it’s expanding the scope of its periodic report – the Transparency Report — detailing the nature of “delisting” or “right to be forgotten” requests.

“The right to be forgotten” is enforced by the European Union (The EU) and stipulates a search engine must remove information it holds about a person if that person asks it do so and if the information is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive.”

The legal precedent was established by the European Union’s Court of Justice after a Spanish citizen, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, submitted a request to Google to remove his financial information from its search results in 2014.

Google’s Transparency Report historically included information on the number of URLs submitted and how many “right to be forgotten” requests have been accepted or declined.

The newly formatted report will leverage data compiled by Google going back to 2016 and will include a breakdown on the number of requests made by individuals relative to private organizations and categorizations to illustrate the type of websites most subject to delisting requests.

It will also include information on the type of content the user requested be e.g. personal information or professional information, and the rate at which “delistings” occur on a quarterly basis.

Additionally, a new research paper by authors affiliated with Google entitled “Three Years of the Right to be Forgotten” has been submitted to the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium for review.

It states 2.4 million URL delisting requests have been submitted to Google search in the last three and a half years and the number of URLs users requested be delisted has averaged 45,000 per month since January, 2015.

33 percent of requests related to social media and directories which contained personal information and 20 percent related to news organisations and governmental websites (these types of requests were most likely to relate to the requester’s legal history).

The remaining 47 percent came from a broader range of websites.

The paper also states that historically it took 85 days to process a delisting request but since January 2017 it took a median of 4 days.

In total, only 43 percent of the requests made have met the criteria set for delisting. France, Germany and the UK made the most requests (51 percent collectively) and 85 percent of all delisting requests were made by private individuals.

In the last two years, governmental officials and politicians submitted 33,937 URLs for delisting while “non-governmental public figures” like celebrities requested the delisting of 41,213 URLs.