Internet giant Google Inc. reported it refuses most of the requests it receives from Europeans seeking to wield their recently won “right to be forgotten.” Since creating the process for deleting links from its European search-engine results in May in compliance with a court ruling, the company said it has received 145,544 requests for removal, and evaluated almost 500,000 uniform resource locators, or URLs. This breaks down to an average of about 1,000 requests per day.
Google’s data showed it acceded to requests in 41.8 percent of cases, and declined them in 58.2 percent of cases.
The company’s online transparency report showed France was the country with the highest number of requests, 29,010, followed by Germany, 25,078, and the U.K., 18,403.
Google cited examples of the kinds of requests it had received and its responses.
A request the company granted was described as follows: “A woman requested that we remove a decades-old article about her husband’s murder, which included her name. The page has been removed from search results for her name.”
A request the company did not grant was described this way: “A financial professional asked us to remove more than 10 links to pages reporting on his arrest and conviction for financial crimes. We did not remove the pages from search results.”
The search giant also revealed that Facebook.com was the site most affected, followed by Profileengine.com and YouTube.com.
Europeans can object to more than just the content of articles. BBC News’ economics editor Robert Peston outlined how an article he wrote about former Merrill Lynch boss Stan O’Neal was removed from the results for a certain name, but that name was not O’Neal’s but a person’s who contributed to the comments section beneath the article.
Matt Kallman, a Google representative, told Mashable “each request is reviewed individually by a human, not an algorithm.”
The European Court of Justice, or ECJ, decided in May that search engines must remove links to “outdated or irrelevant” personal information when a European citizen requests them to do so. The ruling in the landmark case came in an action brought to the court by a Spanish citizen who complained an auction notice of his repossessed home in Google’s search results infringed on his privacy.
The decision has been highly controversial. Web creator Tim Berners-Lee recently branded the law “draconian,”, CNBC reported. And several European media organizations have criticized the ruling as imposing unreasonable restrictions on press freedom.
The decision was recently cited in Japan, where a court ordered Google to remove links about a man’s alleged relationship with a criminal organization, the Associated Press said. The man’s attorney said the ECJ’s ruling on the right to be forgotten had been an example to the legal team’s members and that they had used some of its logic and language.