Google reported this week that it has received more than 2.4 million requests to remove URLs from its search results under Europe’s “right to be forgotten” laws since they were first introduced in May 2014.

The report marks the first instance Google has disclosed information about removal requests under the right to be forgotten laws and is part of the company’s attempts to expand its transparency reports.

Google Google received more than 2.4 million removal requests under "Right to be Forgotten" laws. Photo: 422737/Pixabay

Of the 2.4 million requests Google received to de-list websites containing information from its search engine, nearly one quarter—24 percent—related to “professional information,” which Google defines as “a requester’s work address, contact information or neutral stories about their business activities.”

Just over 10 percent of the requests were identified as “self-authored” content—posts, articles and other information that was written by the requester. Crime and professional wrongdoing followed with eight and seven percent of the total requests, respectively.

Nearly seven percent of requests related to personal information, while three percent were political and another two percent contained “sensitive personal information.”

Google reported above one-third of all removal requests were related to social media sites and directory services that reveal personal information, while 20 percent of the requests were related to news outlets and government sites that contain legal history. The remaining 47 percent requested URLs that covered “a broad diversity of content on the Internet,” according to Google.

While Google received 2.4 million requests to remove information, it did not delist the information simply because a user asked for it to be done. The company reported just 43 percent of the requests met the criteria for delisting, meaning the majority of requested URLs are still listed.

France led the way in removal requests, with citizens of the country filing nearly 500,000 of the more than 2.4 million total requests made between 2014 and 2017. Germany accounted for more than 400,000 requests, and the United Kingdom added just over 300,000. Citizens of Spain, Italy and the Netherlands all topped 100,000 total requests.

The right to be forgotten grants citizens of the internet—at least, those who are living in the European Union—the ability to request that Google remove certain websites and URLs from its search results.

The rules have been touted as a victory for the privacy-minded who would like to keep their information off the internet, but has come under criticism for its potential to erase information that is relevant to the general public. Google reviews each request to see if information is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” and whether there is public interest in the information.