With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Since 2014, when the “right to be forgotten” was court ordered by the European Union, there have been 650K requests to Google to remove certain websites from its search results. This week, Google released a research paper that outlines the types of requests that were submitted.

Most of the requests were to remove five or fewer URLs from its search results. In all, Google says it received requests to remove more than 2.43 million URLs since the end of May 2014, and it has removed about 43 percent of them.

In May 2014 the Court of Justice of the European Union ordered Google and other search engines operating in the area to allow individuals to ask the sites to delist specific search results tied to a person’s name if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive”.

Some stats:

  • 89% of requests came from private individuals.
  • Social media sites, directories, news articles and government pages make up the bulk of links being requested for removal.
  • A little more than half of requests came from France, Germany and the UK

The underlying information on a third-party website is not deleted in this instance, but it becomes much more difficult to find if it no longer appears in Google’s search results. The underlying information on a third-party website is not deleted in this instance, but it becomes much more difficult to find if it no longer appears in Google’s search results.

How do they decide whether to delete or not:

“Determining whether content is in the public interest is complex and may mean considering many diverse factors, including—but not limited to—whether the content relates to the requester’s professional life, a past crime, political office, position in public life, or whether the content is self-authored content, consists of government documents, or is journalistic in nature.”

Why it’s hot: 

  • In the end, the responsibility to determine what’s in the public interest is placed on a private company, a burden, but also a huge responsibility.

Source: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/28/589411543/google-received-650-000-right-to-be-forgotten-requests-since-2014