Europe introduced a “right to be forgotten” law back in May 2014, allowing users to ask search engines to remove personal information about them that’s no longer relevant or current. Since then, Google has received more than 2.4 million such requests to remove data from its results, the company revealed in its latest transparency report. Google has not honored all of the requests it received, but it did comply with 43.3-percent of them. In a bid to expand its right to be forgotten transparency reports, Google also notes that it will start adding more data from the past two years, since its reviewers began to manually annotate URL submissions back in January 2016.
The new information will further detail a breakdown of the requests received from private users, as well as non-private users such as companies or government officials. Google will also detail the contents of takedown requests, associated websites, and delisting rates, i.e. the rates at which it removes content when asked. Among various reasons for filing right to be forgotten requests, the most common one amounting to 24-percent of cases pertains to “professional information.” “Self-authored” follows with ten-percent, crime accounts for eight-percent, while "professional wrongdoing" makes up seven-percent of the submissions. For the sake of transparency, Google further provided examples of takedown notices it received, as well as their context and eventual outcomes.
Detailing the nature of the right to be forgotten requests it has received so far, Google notes that roughly a third of all requests were tied to directory services and social media. Other requests were related to legal history information found either in news articles (18-percent) or on government websites (three-percent). Google complies with the right to be forgotten requests if the information requiring delisting is inaccurate, irrelevant, inadequate, or excessive. If the information would serve a public interest by being available in search results, the company may not comply with a takedown request. Google is issuing transparency reports to explain how it decides whether to comply with a request or not, and how users are exercising their right to be forgotten. According to Google’s latest report, private individuals accounted for 89-percent of all right to be forgotten requests filed from mid-2014 until the turn of this year.