BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Google is still struggling to see the end of the debate over the “right to be forgotten” in Europe. In light of the recently released twice-yearly transparency report, Google is still neck-deep in requests.
Since last May when the policy became effective, European citizens have filed 348,085 requests to remove links for various reasons, such as copyright infringements, user data, or search results that revealed irrelevant or inadequate information. Google reported that roughly 42 percent of the links – with the exception of the requests still pending – were eventually removed.
The statistics are slightly more encouraging compared to the reports made public in July, when Google provided the last update on link removals. According to the search giant, under half of the 280,000 requests it received were approved.
An earlier set of data that was leaked to the public showed that a whopping 95 percent of the requests asked to remove “private or personal information” from search results. This means the concerns over the possible censoring of relevant information are ill-founded, given that only a small sliver involved links about serious crimes or public figure.
This latest transparency report shows the requests cover a wide range of sources. Nine percent of the total requests are accounted by the top 10 domains. Facebook and Profile Engine – the two sources that topped last year’s list as well – kept their spots in the lead. Profile Engine is a search algorithm that fishes for personal information on Facebook.
Overall, the most popular targets for removal requests are a mix of “people search” websites, including 192.com, Profile Engine, YouTube and Google+. As far as social networks go, Facebook, Twitter and Badoo – a friend-finding platform criticized for weak privacy policies – were the ones to make it in the top.
Google’s report also included some examples of granted and non-granted requests for future reference. For instance, links to a personal photo of an Italian woman’s name were removed from the search results, but the removal request for the embarrassing statements penned in an article by a UK “media professional” was declined.
At the same time, the internet is still having a tough time deciding what constitutes public and private life online, so even though Google has been rather compliant with “right to be forgotten” rules, the company is still in disagreement with European governments. The debate is now over their scope, asking for the policy to extend to non-European websites of Google Search.
Image Source: Rude Baguette