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Google scours 1.2 million URLs to conform with EU's 'right to be forgotten'

Sorry politicians, you're still on the hook for your misdeeds.
Roberto Baldwin, @strngwys
November 25, 2015
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While still fighting it in the courts, Google has been complying with the EU's 'right to be forgotten' ruling. In a transparency report, the search giant stated that is has evaluated 1,234,092 URLs from 348,085 requests since May 29, 2014. Of those, 42 percent of the URLs have been removed from search results. When deciding which results stay and which get disappeared from results, it says, "Google must consider the rights of the individual as well as public interest in the content." Unsurprising, the top site to have its search results scrubbed is Facebook.

To show how it comes to its decisions, the company shared some of the requests it received and its decisions. For example: a private citizen that was convicted of a serious crime, but had that conviction overturned during appeal, had search results about the crime removed. Meanwhile a high ranking public official in Hungary failed to get the results squelched of a decades-old criminal conviction. Of course, that doesn't mean the system is perfect and the company has already been accused of making mistakes.

At its core, the biggest issue is finding the balance between publicly available information and privacy. To navigate that, Google handles each request individually. First they are handed to a group of lawyers, paralegals and engineers. They take care of the relatively easy cases. For more difficult cases, a group of senior Google employees debate and vote on the merits of a request.

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