Google removes 440k links under 'Right to be Forgotten' ruling

Google HQ
Google HQ

In an effort to uphold its users requests for privacy and maintain transparency - Google has released a report on all the data it has removed from its search results, after the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled last May that users have the ‘right to be forgotten'.

Spaniard Mario Costeja Gonzalez took Google Spain to court as he noticed his name returned on 16-year-old Google search results about the sale of his properties when he got into financial difficulties. He won and the court ruling stated that Google must act on users' requests to remove ‘irrelevant' and ‘outdated' links in searches for their names.

On the whole, Google says it has evaluated 1,235,473 URLs for removal after receiving 348,508 separate requests. Of those, it has removed 441,032 URLs. Google chose not to remove 608,169 URLs; the other 186,272 are pending review or require additional information from the user.

According to Google, of all the URLs requested for removal from search results, the top 10 account for nine percent of the requests.

Facebook tops the list at 10,229 URLs removed, followed by Profile Engine with 7997 URLs. Google Groups, YouTube, Google+, Badoo, 192.com and Twitter also feature on the list with a few thousand removed links each.

Google has released 23 examples of requests they encounter for URL removal, although it is not quite clear how they are making the decisions about what to remove and not to remove, the pages granted removal appear to be ones where Google lawfully had to eg a page was using an image it did not have the permission to, or where the data is genuinely out of date and could no longer be displayed eg a news article about a court ruling that was later quashed on appeal.

You can read more about how Google are handling this initiative, including a breakdown of countries with most URL removal requests, on its latest Transparency Report.