Google granting majority of 'right to be forgotten' requests

The Internet search-engine giant unveils updated statistics on "right to be forgotten" requests in Europe, showing it has approved more than half the requests.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read

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Google confirmed Friday it has approved more than half of the "right to be forgotten" requests it's received and processed since May, resulting in the removal of tens of thousands of links on its websites.

Those statistics exhibits the quick impact of the European Union's new "right to be forgotten" rules, which went into effect in May and say European citizens have a right to ask search engines to remove any results that might infringe on their privacy.

A Google representative confirmed to CNET on Friday that the company removed more than 50 percent of "right to be forgotten" requests it processed so far. The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported that information Thursday night.

In its comments to CNET, Google also updated its statistics on takedown requests, saying that as of July 18 it received 91,000 requests involving more than 328,000 individual webpages since May. Earlier this month, on July 10, the company disclosed that it received more than 70,000 requests on 250,000 individual webpages since May.

Along with approving more than 50 percent of requests, the company said Friday it asked for more information in about 15 percent of cases and rejected more than 30 percent of applications.

The new statistics come as Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are reportedly meeting with European Union regulators about the new law and its implementation.

In May, the EU Court of Justice made a controversial ruling allowing European citizens the right to request search engines remove results that infringe on their privacy. The rules are now generally called "right to be forgotten" laws. Google, which condemned the decision, was named directly in the lawsuit before the court, but other search engines are affected as well. The decision reinvigorated the debate pitting privacy in the Internet age against the public's right to know.

Of particular interest to the EU officials is Google's handling of search results, which they say hasn't gone far enough to safeguard affected users. The issue for regulators is that Google is only taking down links in its European search engines, meaning that if users search for the same content on its US-based website they can see the results that were removed in Europe.

Update, 7:10 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Google.