Google has just released an updated version of its Transparency Report, providing new details about the impact it has seen since a European court upheld the so-called “right to be forgotten.”
Bottom line: Google said it has received “142,000 requests to remove links to more than 490,000 web pages.”
“We’ve received the most removal requests from France, Germany, the UK, Spain, and Italy respectively,” Google wrote on its European blog. “We’re also providing some data about the domains that appear most frequently in URLs that individuals ask us to remove. Among these top 10 domains are Facebook, Badoo, and two Google-owned and operated sites, YouTube and Google Groups — both of which have their own mechanisms to request removal of content directly from the platform.”
According to the report, Google has removed 41.8% of the URLs it has reviewed, or 170,506. It declined to remove another 237,561 URLs, or 58.2%.
The report stems from a European court ruling back in May that upheld the right of individuals to ask search engines to remove links about them. Search engines like Google must evaluate these requests and are only supposed to decline to remove the links if they contain information that is clearly in the public interest.
Google has blasted the ruling and called it an attack on free speech. The company has been campaigning to have the ruling overturned. The company has even created an advisory council, led by Chairman Eric Schmidt, which has been holding public hearings about the issue around Europe.
But the company has also been criticized across Europe by some for being too aggressive in its response to the issue. In fact, at a meeting last month of European privacy regulators, officials criticized the company for overstating the impact of the ruling.
In that regard, Google’s report today serves as the latest volley in the attempt to sway public opinion on the matter.
The report includes some anonymous examples of requests it has received, such as this one from Italy:
“A woman requested that we remove a decades-old article about her husband’s murder, which included her name. The page has been removed from search results for her name.”
And this one from Switzerland:
“A financial professional asked us to remove more than 10 links to pages reporting on his arrest and conviction for financial crimes. We did not remove the pages from search results.”
In the blog post, Google insisted that disclosing information on the requests and how they are being handled is the right thing to do.
“We believe it’s important to be transparent about how much information we’re removing from search results while being respectful of individuals who have made requests,” the post says. “Releasing this information to the public helps hold us accountable for our process and implementation.”