3 years of “right to oblivion”: Google disclosed statistics of requests for “deletion” of information

A month ago, on its blog, Google presented statistics on the implementation of the so-called right to oblivion over the past 3 years. In total, from 2014 to 2017, the company received 2.5 million requests to remove information from search results.

We will tell you more about what the “right to oblivion” is and how it works.


/ photo James West CC

How it all started


The “Right to Oblivion” was adopted by the European Court in 2014. The decision obliged Google to remove from the search results "inaccurate, knowingly false and more irrelevant" information about the person upon his request.

A precedent for the adoption of the bill was the case of the Spaniard Mario González (Mario González), which began in 2009. González discovered that a search query on Google by his name issued court alerts 20 years ago, which at that time were published by a Spanish newspaper. Mario tried to resolve the issue with the newspaper, but to no avail. Then he “challenged” Google. After 5 years of proceedings, the court ruled in favor of the Spaniard.

David Drummond, then director of legal affairs at Google, called the decision "disappointing." Many other American organizations supported his position - they dubbed the court ruling “a blow against freedom of speech.” However, the opinion of the European community was more loyal, since the concept of the right to oblivion was discussed long before it was enshrined in law.

How is the right to oblivion realized


A request to remove data from search results can be generated through an online form on Google. The company opened it to the public 2 weeks after the entry into force of the right to oblivion. It indicates links to specific web pages (or groups of pages) containing information for deletion, personalized requests related to them, as well as personal data of the initiator to identify him.

The most controversial moment in the implementation of the “right to oblivion” is the decision-making mechanism for deleting information. The main criterion is what value it represents to the public. For example, relevant information about elected politicians or convicted criminals has the right to remain in the public eye. The same goes for negative reviews of goods and services. Therefore, all requests to delete such information (if true) Google does not satisfy.

However, many requests, for example, to remove insults, unfounded statements of many years ago, photographs and other information have to be considered individually, based on the context for each particular case. The Advisory Council, a council that was organized by Google in 2015 and included specialists from the world of business, politics, IT, science, as well as representatives of media and public organizations.

The purpose of the Advisory Council is to formulate recommendations for the removal of information, as well as a thorough analysis of appeals and methods for processing them. The result of several joint discussions within the Council was the report of February 6, 2015. It described in detail the mechanisms for classifying calls and the types of information to be deleted, as well as cases in which the information is of interest to the public and cannot be deleted.

This report is a kind of interpretation by Google of the decision of the European Court of Justice and, in fact, leaves the IT giant with the right to independently decide on the removal of information. However, every year Google publishes a Transparency Report, which provides statistics on progress.


/ photo Ralf Steinberger CC

Statistics of requests for 2014-2017


Of the more than 2.5 million requests sent between 2014 and 2017, only 43% met the removal criteria. The vast majority of appeals (89%) came from private individuals, but there were also requests from public figures and politicians. In total, over the past two years, civil servants have requested the removal of about 33 thousand links, celebrities - 41 thousand.

Interestingly, 15% of all requests came from 0.25% of applicants. This is due to the fact that many of these people have lawyers and reputation management organizations representing the interests of other people.

If you analyze what exactly you asked to be removed from the search results, then in 31% of cases this is personal data in social networks and reference services, and in 21% - the legal history of the applicant on news and government websites.

Most often, residents of Germany, France, Italy and the UK enjoyed the right to oblivion. By the way, in Germany and France the most "popular" was the removal of information from social networks and directories, while in Italy and the UK - from news sites.

Where does the right to oblivion work?


It is noteworthy that Google exercised the right to oblivion exclusively in European domain zones, for example google.fr and google.de. If we take into account the fact that in the process of processing requests the information itself is not deleted, but only disappears from the search results in Europe, it can still be found using other domain zones, including google.com.

Such a contradiction gave rise to many legal conflicts, one of the last was a lawsuit by the French CNIL, a data privacy organization, against Google demanding to remove information from the issuance globally.

However, the position of the IT giant in this matter is unequivocal: such a requirement goes beyond the framework of European jurisdiction, creating a precedent in which the laws of one country are imposed on the whole world. Litigation on this issue began in 2016 and continues to this day.



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