Google has been asked by a group of 80 internet scholars to be more transparent regarding the management of the “right to be forgotten” requests it receives. A year after the European Court of Justice decreed that the search provider must delete inappropriate information from its platforms, the search giant claims to have authorized 40% of the 253,617 requests it had received demanding removal of about 920,258 links.
More transparency conflicts with privacy
The scholars, in their letter to Google, claimed that the company should let people know about the number and the type of information removed from the search results. Along with this, Google should detail the kind and volume of the sources that are deleted and document the quantity and the type of requests that were been approved. In addition, the letter demanded that the search company mention its parameters for determining an equilibrium between the freedom of expression and individual privacy.
In a response, Google said that it would consider the ideas from the scholars and weigh them against “the various constraints within which we have to work – operationally and from a data protection standpoint.”
Though the academics group agreed that their demand of transparency conflicts with the public’s privacy protection, the group claimed that the information they are asking Google to divulge will not only benefit the people who have already requested the removal of particular content but also the ones who might be looking to make similar requests in the future.
Process followed by Google
Separately, Google’s global privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, detailed the process followed, saying the company employs a multi-step process to figure out suitable requests that should be approved. Such requests, which are submitted through a web form, are first directed to the company’s Dublin offices where a panel of “lawyers, paralegals and engineers” evaluate the “easier” ones. The majority of these cases, for instance, information relating to shoplifting arrests, are instantly removed from the search results. However, the more complex ones are referred to Google’s senior team, which is comprised of both local and international employees. This team is sometimes supplemented by outside experts, especially when the problems are really complicated.
Along with Google, the decision by the ECJ is also applicable to other search providers present in Europe, such as Yahoo and Bing. Also Google is the only service to inform web administrators about the removal of a link to one of their web pages.