Google has revealed that since it implemented the European “Right to be Forgotten” ruling, it has received almost one million requests for URLs to be taken down from the search results, and that about 40 percent of those requests have been granted. The ruling was quite controversial, and Google accepted it only reluctantly. Since implementing the request feature it has spent a lot of time questioning exactly what it is required to do and where its obligations end under the ruling. In its recent transparency announcement, it has said that it has complied with 253,617 requests, that relate to 920,258 web addresses. It elaborated that it had received removal evaluations for 126,000 web addresses in the UK, coming from 32,000 different requests, and that it complied with around 30% of those requests.
The search engine company described some of the requests that it had seen so far. One request came from a media professional who requested that four links to articles which mentioned embarrassing content which he had posted online were removed from the search results. Google chose not to comply with that request. One example of a request that Google did comply with related to a conviction which was quashed. The individual requested that Google remove a page from the search results that appeared when a user searched for that individual’s name. The individual had been convicted of a serious crime a couple of years ago, but the conviction was reversed when he appealed it.
Main Target Sites
As a part of the transparency report, Google provided information about the sites that appeared most frequently in the requests. Facebook was the most common site, with 6,772 links coming from Facebook being removed. Other sites that were in the top ten included Google+, YouTube, Google Groups and Twitter. The top ten sites collectively account for eight percent of all right to be forgotten removal requests. There were tens of thousands of removal requests sent to the search engine within the first few weeks of it putting up the request form. Since the ruling went live there have been extensive discussions about whether it should extend the right to include .com domains. The European Union wants to see the ruling apply to all countries, but it is currently limited to just searches conducted on the European versions of Google.