In 2014, a European court ordered Google to allow Europeans the “right to be forgotten”, and the company says it has received more than 650,000 such requests since then.
Google came out with a “transparency report” and research paper this week where it reported that most of such “right to be forgotten” requests were to remove five or fewer URLs from its search results.
Over all, Google says it has received requests to remove more than 2.43 million URLs since the end of May 2014. It has so far removed 43% of those requests.
For three and a half years since the court’s order, Google says there were 400,000 requesting entities. Among those who requested such removal of digital footprint are celebrities who in the past two years have requested more than 41,000 delistings. Politicians and government officials are top requesters too with 34,000 request for delisting.
Google added that 1,000 requesters were “frequent requesters”, often law firms and reputation management companies, which made up 15 percent of all requests.
More than half of the requests received by Google just came from three countries namely France, Germany and the U.K. The company also added that 89 percent of requests came from private individuals. People want removed mostly social media sites, directories, news articles and government pages.
Google says it “evaluates each request on a case-by-case basis”, and weighs the public interest when establishing when to remove a link.
Google also clarified the limit of such removals. Search results people see in other countries are not affected. The company says it uses “geolocation signals to restrict access to the URL from the country of the requester” and delists the link from all of its European Union country search engines.
There is still an ongoing battle with Google by French privacy regulators who are insisting on having the company remove search results globally, not just in Europe, when requested. The case is still being considered by the EU’s Court of Justice.
In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google and other search engines operating in Europe to allow individuals the right to ask the sites to delist certain search results related to a person’s name, if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing.” People in the EU countries along with Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein are allowed to make such a request.