Right to be forgotten: one year on, Google is refusing to comply with most removal requests

Only 40 per cent of people asking for things to be deleted from Google’s results actually get their way, the company’s reports show

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Wednesday 13 May 2015 15:52

A year on from the landmark “right to be forgotten” ruling, Google is refusing most of the requests that it receives asking to delete information from its search results.

The ruling gave European citizens the right to ask for search results about them that were no longer relevant to stop being shown.

The right to be forgotten was instituted in a European Court of Justice ruling on May 13. After a couple of weeks, Google started accepting requests for deletion on May 29.

Information from Reputation VIP, a French company that helps people make the requests, indicates that over that year Google has become quicker to evaluate the requests but less likely to uphold them. Google rejected 70 per cent of requests in recent months but was accepting a majority of them last year.

In that year, Google has received support from groups including the House of Lords in asking for it to be repealed, claiming that the ruling is expensive and unworkable. But other groups have said that the ruling doesn’t go far enough, and that it should be extended into the US and to domains outside of Europe.

Google keeps a regularly updated set of data on what has been removed and what hasn’t, as part of its Transparency Report. The most recent update shows that 58.7 per cent of the 922,638 requests that it has evaluated have been rejected.

In the UK, the number of removals is even lower, with only 37.6 per cent of users getting their way, and in Italy it is 27.6 per cent. Germany is the major country with the most successful requests, with 48.9 per cent of URLs being removed from search engines.

Google’s reports also show that the site most hit by the requests is Facebook. But the requests are fairly thinly-spread, with the top ten sites — including Google Plus, YouTube and Twitter — only account for 8 per cent of URLs removed.

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