Google Accidentally Released Details of Right to be Forgotten Requests

By Jamie Condliffe on at

A year has passed since the EU ruled that people have the “right to be forgotten” online, and Google has been busy removing links when people ask it to. But now it’s accidentally revealed details about the requests and it turns out the truth is less salacious than you may have hoped for.

The Guardian stumbled across the details hidden within the source code of Google’s own transparency report. The data, which accounts for over three quarters of all the cases made to date, reveals that 95 per cent of the requests were made by citizens simply wanting to protect their personal and private information.

The newspaper cites examples like a woman asking to remove her name from a news articles when her husband died, and someone who wanted their address to be taken down. Only the remaining 5 per cent relate to other criminals, politicians and high-profile public figures.

The data reveals that just under half of all the requests made were de-listed from individual name searches on the ground of “private or personal information”. Less than 1 per cent were successful in being de-listed that related to “serious crime”, “public figure” , “political” or “child protection” issues. (Those are Google’s labels.) You can read a more in-depth analysis of the data over on the Guardian website.

The source code from which the details were garnered has now been updated, with these figures removed. Google claims to the Guardian its presence was “part of a test to figure out how we could best categorise requests” for transparency reporting. It was deemed “not reliable enough for publication”, but Google claims to be working on how best to report the transparency with which its right-to-be-forgotten requests are made. [Guardian]

Image byBen Seidelman under Creative Commons licence