Brits Deluge Google with 18,000 ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Requests

British netizens have bombarded Google with over 18,000 requests asking the search engine to remove results about them since a European court ruled in May that citizens deserved the “right to be forgotten” in certain circumstances.

In total across the region, Google has received 146,938 requests for URLs to be removed, and evaluated 498,830 individual links since its official request process launched on May 29.

Since then it has removed 58.2% of them, it said in a new transparency report.

France was the most vocal in issuing takedown requests (29,250), followed by Germany (25,272).

The UK came in third, issuing 18,597 requests for information to be removed from search results – amounting to more than 1 in 10 requests across Europe.

Total URLs that “individuals with relationships to this country” requested to remove was 63,616.

It must be added that UK requesters were much less successful in their attempts to have links to content about them removed from the search engine listings. Google only removed 35% (18,457 URLs), compared to France’s 51.5% (36,509) and Germany’s 53% (39,894).

The most impacted site was perhaps unsurprisingly Facebook, which had 3,353 links to it removed, followed by Facebook crawler Profile Engine (3,299), YouTube (2,395) and social dating service Badoo (2,207).

In a landmark ruling in May The European Court of Justice found that individuals could demand search engines remove links to “irrelevant” or outdated information about them.

The ruling came in response to a Spanish man’s complaint that search results for his name returned information from a decade ago related to personal debts.

The so-called “right to be forgotten” is a key pillar of the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation and so many more organizations than search engines may soon have to comply with similar requests.

Christian Toon, European head of information risk at Iron Mountain, argued that research carried out by the data backup firm found that less than half (43%) of European firms believe they can delete all personal information if the individual in question asks them to.

A further 86% of consumers claimed they don’t believe a company would honor such a request.

“Businesses need to take this matter seriously and assume full responsibility for the data they hold,” Toon argued.

“The European guidance is clear and companies that aren’t compliant, risk not only breaking the law, but facing a backlash from the public.”

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