Academics request details on Google's 'right to be forgotten' adherence

A year after Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling, academics and a U.K. regulatory office are asking Google for further information on how it adheres to it.
A year after Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling, academics and a U.K. regulatory office are asking Google for further information on how it adheres to it.

In the year since Europe's “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) ruling passed, Google alone has received more than 250,000 individual requests concerning one million URLs, and of those, slightly more than 40 percent of the URLs have been delisted from name search results.

Now, 80 academic leaders, from both institutions in the U.S. and Europe, have penned a letter to Google requesting its compliance data in relation to the ruling. More specifically, they are hoping Google will elaborate on what information it typically delists and what it usually keeps in its search results. They also want further information on proportions of the requests and in what countries they're happening.

“While Google's decisions will seem reasonable enough to most, in the absence of real information about how representative these are, the arguments about the validity and application of the RTBF are impossible to evaluate with rigor,” the group wrote.

They went on to say that they know little about what kind and how much information is being delisted, what sources are being delisted and what kinds of requests fail and in what proportion.

Meanwhile, as these experts press Google to expand on their adherence to the ruling, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), a regulatory office in the U.K., told the BBC that it was looking into 48 cases it believed Google hadn't gotten “quite right.”

An ICO spokesman said that the office had received more than 183 complaints from individuals unhappy with Google's response to their takedown request.

In about 75 percent of cases, the office ruled that Google was correct in its request decision.

“This suggests that, for the most part, Google is getting the balance right between the protection of the individual's privacy and the interest of internet users,” the spokesman said.

However in these 48 instances, it might not be the case, in the ICO's opinion.

Google isn't the only company subject to the ruling, although it has been the most scrutinized by officials.

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