Compliance Management, Privacy

‘Right to be forgotten’ mostly not for hiding crimes and misdemeanors

Some 200,000 out of 280,000 requests to Google to remove links under the Right to be Forgotten have been revealed by the Guardian which found the data hidden in source code on Google's transparency report; the data showed that 95 percent of requests are from ordinary citizens, not criminals, celebrities or politicians.

The European Court of Justice ruled that EU residents can ask search companies to remove pages from search results “on the ground that that information may be prejudicial to him or that he wishes it to be ‘forgotten' after a certain time.”

People with suspect past behaviour have been the most publicised complainants thus it was feared criminals would be the biggest users,  but simple privacy issues form the bulk of requests,  such as a woman seeking removal of her address from a report of her husband's death, or a person objecting to revelation of their contracting HIV a decade ago.

Google says the data is not robust enough for publication but confirms it is accurate, revealing that of 218,320 requests to remove links, 46 percent were successful, most covering ‘private or personal information.' However, less than one percent of the overall total  were successful for ‘serious crime' (728), ‘public figure' (454), ‘political' (534) or ‘child protection' (176) , and when removed it was suggested it may be because they concern victims, witnesses, spent convictions, or the private lives of public persons.

In France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Portugal and Cyprus, 98 percent of requests concern private information and in the UK and Spain, the proportion is 95 percent, with  only Italy (85 percent), Romania (87 percent) and Hungary (88 percent) below 90 percent. In Italy, the second largest issue type is “serious crime” (1,951 requests, comprising 12 percent of the country's total).

This story originally appeared on

Get daily email updates

SC Media's daily must-read of the most current and pressing daily news

By clicking the Subscribe button below, you agree to SC Media Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.