Google asked to remove one million links under 'right to be forgotten'

Google has removed 58 percent of one million URLs that Europeans have asked it to scrub from search results.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

In the year or so since Europe introduced the 'right to be forgotten', Google has received requests to remove over one million links from its search results.

The right to be forgotten was introduced following a ruling in May last year by the European Court of Human Rights. It allowed European citizens to request that search engines stop returning links to information that is out of date, excessive, or irrelevant when people search for their names.

Google, which began taking right to be forgotten requests in May last year, detailed the current level of requests in its Transparency Report updated on Sunday. The report shows that it's evaluated requests pertaining to 1,027,207 links and removed 58.7 percent of them, refusing to remove the other 41.3 percent.

The proportion of links Google has agreed to remove has risen significantly since October last year when it was removing around one third of all URLs.

So far it's received 282,407 requests, with most coming from France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain, and Italy.

Google has opposed the 'right to be forgotten' and has so far defied calls from some in Europe to apply the removals to its .com domain. Currently, it only implements removals in its local domains for European nations, such as google.fr or google.co.uk.

The French data protection authority CNIL in June argued Google must remove search results from all its domains in order for the right to be forgotten to be effective. CNIL threatened that it may recommend sanctions against Google if it didn't implement the change within 15 days.

According to Google's figures, the French were the most active requesters in Europe, filing 58,460 requests with Google to remove 197,526 URLs. Google has removed 52.3 percent there and not removed 47.7 percent. Germans lodged over 48,000 requests concerning 184,670 URLs, while British users filed 35,320 requests concerning 138,688 URLs.

Google says the site it had to remove most links to was facebook.com, where it has delisted 8,009 URLs from its search results.

Right to be forgotten removal requests are dwarfed by copyright removal requests: Google currently removes over nine million URLs over claims of copyright infringement.

The new figures from Google come a week after Russia's Duma parliament passed its own version of the right to be forgotten, which could force local and foreign search engines to remove links to personal information upon a user's request. The bill is set to come into effect in January 2016, according to Deutsche Welle.

Read more on the right to be forgotten

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