Despite the court ruling, it is still likely that Google will display links to the information that people request should be forgotten. Almost 60% of material that users ask to be removed from search results will remain visible.
Google’s Right To Be Forgotten request process almost a year old
Google’s online transparency tool reveals that the majority of links will remain visible even after the company receives a removal request. Google reportedly received 253,000 removal requests related to over 920,000 links, of which the company removed around 380,000, or just over 40%.
The request process was launched on May 29 last year, following the court ruling on May 13, which allowed EU citizens to request the removal of links which contained inaccurate or inadequate information related to their names. Most requests originated from the EU’s largest states.
French and German citizens were highly concerned about their online privacy, submitting 780 and 530 requests per million inhabitants from each country respectively. UK citizens submitted 500 requests per million inhabitants, the Spanish 490 per million and 310 requests were received per million Italians.
Google accepted almost half of the requests from France and Germany, but this rate dropped in other states, including figures of 37.5% in the UK to 27.6% in Italy.
Request rejections on the rise
Social media sites have been responsible for the highest number of removed links, including Facebook, New Zealand social network search engine profileengine.com and the Google Groups forum.
Google has improved the speed with which it handles removal requests, according to French online reputation management company Reputation VIP. Requests sent in March this year took 16 days to process, down from 56 days for those requests submitted in June last year. Google has also started to refuse a higher percentage of removal requests, with around 70% of requests being rejected since January this year, up from 43% in June 2014.
The company is most likely to remove links which reveal someone’s private address or personal opinions against their will, but is less likely to do so if the page contains information about their professional life. Despite the ruling, it appears that the right to be forgotten is not truly protecting EU citizens’ privacy, given that the offending URLs are only removed from Google’s European sites, and not from google.com.