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Google and EU’s “Right to be Forgotten”

Everybody has had a moment they would love to forget. In 2010 Spanish citizen Mario Costeja González lodged a complaint with the National Data Protection Agency against Google Spain and Google Inc. He stated that an action notice on his repossessed home on Google’s search engine infringed his privacy rights because the proceedings concerning him had been fully resolved, meaning the references were irrelevant.

One year ago, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled to enforce Europe’s “right to be forgotten” practise, meaning people are allowed to ask search engines to remove links with defamatory, inaccurate, misrepresentative or out-dated information about them.

The decision applies to all search engines operating in Europe, including Yahoo, Bing and Google.

Google published an online form allowing those whom seek to be "forgotten" to request the removal of a link from search results. Google has been the only one to notify website administrators when a link to one of their webpages is to be removed from search results.


Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales called the ruling “ridiculous” at the time and had many supporters. The Telegraph and various other websites have maintained a list of links that have been removed from Google.

Within the last year, according to Google’s Transparency Report, the search giant has received 255,143 requests for 925,586 web links to be removed. Initially, it took an average of 56 days to process each request. Now the waiting time is just 16 days.

However, Google has approved just over 40 per cent of those requests. People searching for topics that have been removed will see the message “Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe” at the bottom of Google.co.uk.


183 people in Britain have complained to the UK’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), when Google denied their request to remove links. In most cases ICO agreed with Google’s decision, except for 48 cases where ICO felt Google “hasn’t got it quite right” and asked Google to review these cases. If the cases are not resolved then Google may face legal action from ICO.

Currently, the 'right to be forgotten' is only restricted to European search engines. EU data protection watchdogs want to make it global, applying it to .com search engines also.

It’s no surprise that Google isn’t happy with Europe’s highest court decision. Google’s chairman Eric Schmidt believes the decision didn’t consider the public's “right to know”. It’s also left the search engine giant in the predicament of deciding which requests to grant and deny – a task I believe should be made by the court.

"Google is clearly making the Right To Be Forgotten work for its users in Europe, but that is because you must under the law. We call on you to voluntarily offer the same right to Google users in the United States," wrote John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog privacy project director, in an open letter to Schmidt and Google CEO Larry Page. 

"The Digital Age has ended that. Everything — all my digital footprints — is instantly available with a few clicks on a computer or taps on a mobile device."

When Mario Costeja González’s case begun, it seems Schmidt did think about these consequences as he was quoted in Wall Street’s Journal stating “I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time’ in 2010.

Jessica Smith 

Australian girl, Jessica is loving England but is missing the sunshine! She loves writing, dogs and plays hockey! Follow her @JessicaAtSMF

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Google and EU’s “Right to be Forgotten” Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, May 15, 2015 Rating: 5

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