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Google 'forget' requests reach 348,000

November 26, 2015

Eighteen months after a European court ruling, the search giant has received 348,000 requests to delete personal information. More than 1.2 million sites have been evaluated for removal.

Google Logo Symbolbild
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/O. Spata

Google's latest figures, released on Wednesday, showed no let up in the number of people asking the US-based search engine to be forgotten.

A total of 348,085 requests for information to vanish from search results have been received since a European Court of Justice ruling in May 2014 which recognized EU citizens' "right to be forgotten."

The company fought the ruling, claiming that the judgment opened the door to censorship.

The number has grown almost 40 percent since Google last revealed "forget me" figures in May. The latest data revealed that a total of 1,234,092 URLs (website addresses) have been evaluated for removal.

France leads

The top country for removal requests was France, where officials have taken aim at the Internet giant over data protection issues, followed by Germany and Great Britain. More than 73,000 requests have been received from French Internet users and slightly less than half have been removed.

Across Europe, around 58 percent of requests were been rejected, Google said, adding that it bases its decisions on criteria intended to balance privacy with the public's right to know.

Google vs #righttobeforgotten

To be evaluated under the "right to be forgotten" rules, users in Europe must fill in an online form to specify which information should be excluded from search results. Media reports suggest it takes around 15-20 days for Google to process an application, which it says undergoes a full review by lawyers and engineers.

Strict criteria

An outline of scenarios produced by Google, which is likely to lead to information being forgotten in searches, included pages with content solely about someone's health, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Other common delisting criteria included criminal convictions regarding children or stories focusing on criminal charges that were subsequently overturned by courts.

"We may decline to delist if we determined that the page contains information which is strongly in the public interest," the search giant said in an online post.

Social media risks

Facebook was the top online spot where people wanted information forgotten from searches, with a total of 10,220 URLs removed, the report indicated.

The second most common venue for removals was profileengine.com, with 7,986 links to the people-focused search engine removed from search results.

The Top 10 sites for URLs to be forgotten included Google Groups, YouTube, Badoo, Annuaire, Twitter, and the Google+ social network.

At present, data is only removed from national sites including google.de and google.co.uk but EU authorities want the search giant to extend the restriction to its main google.com site.

Similar processes have been set up for other search engines including Microsoft's Bing and Yahoo.

mm/sms (AFP, Google)