Do people have the 'right to be forgotten' online?

  • Do people have the 'right to be forgotten' online?

Do people have the 'right to be forgotten' online?

The rule allows individuals to ask Google and other similar services to delist the search results related to their name. Before delisting any URL, Google considers whether the information in question is "inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive".

Almost half of the requested URLs directed to social media websites or directories (sites that contain personal information like emails, phone numbers, addresses, etc.) And over 20 percent of the pages referenced an individual's legal history, in news articles or on government pages.

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

The search giant noted that less than half of the right to be forgotten requests are actioned due to some requests being overridden by public interest and other information factors. Google made the acknowledgement of the number of "right to be forgotten" requests on Tuesday, adding that it has complied with approximately 43 percent of the requests. The onset of GDPR in 2017 will make it easier for European Union citizens to make similar requests of other platforms. Google also outlines examples of requests it received, the context of why the request was made, and the resulting outcome. And the small majority, some 19 per cent, of requests are from people asking to be de-listed from directories where the individual's personal information is listed.

Google received more than 2.4 million removal requests under "Right to be Forgotten" laws. Such groups mainly included law firms and reputation-management agencies, and nearly half of them are based in Germany, France and the United Kingdom, notes ZDNet.

Overall, people in France, Germany and the United Kingdom were responsible for just over half of the delisting requests, and a mere 0.25% of the people filing such requests-a thousand individuals-were behind 15% of the requests. As a result, it has faced pressure from courts and regulators across Europe. "This paper uses our manual reviewers" annotations to provide a comprehensive analysis of the ways Europeans are using the "right to be forgotten'," said Michee Smith, Google Transparency Report product lead, in a blog post.

It's wonderful enough that Google is required to process massive amounts of delinking requests in order to serve customers in Europe. The ability to delist a news article could be a cause for concern, for freedom of information and press advocates.

One of the more interesting disclosures in the report is that there is a category of high-volume RTBF requesters. Google reports that the top 1000 requesters "generated 14.6 percent of requests and 20.8 percent of delistings".