As people have the right to be known online, they also have the right to be forgotten online. A European Court of Justice ruled in May 2014 and acknowledged the “right to be forgotten” on the internet. This verdict provided the opportunity to the users of Google search engine to ask it to eliminate results about them that are incorrect or has lost relevance. In fact, the search engine giant has conformed to less than half of the demands but their decision of deletion is based on criteria that intend to balance privacy and with general public’s right to information.
A report released by Google revealed that the top country which has made the maximum number of request was France and the internet company is involved in a standoff with the data protection officials of this country. The company also said that overall the right-to-be-forgotten requests have affected more than 1.23 million Internet Pages and they have approved to remove 42 percent of them from the internet search results of Europe. France was the country with the highest number of requests resulting into 73,399 applications, Germany accounting for 60,198 applications, United Kingdom accounting for 43,101 requests and many others.
Google has released an online form for the people in Europe that they can fill out to request information to be omitted from the search results. A similar procedure has been put in place by the Microsoft’s search engine Bing. But the internet companies themselves have the right to decide which requests should be or can be granted.
Google clarified that the common grounds for eliminating of pages from search results include pages with content regarding someone’s health issues, race, religion, sexual orientation, criminal convictions related to children, content emphasizing on criminal charges that were later overturned by the courts. The search engine also takes into account the requests made by crime victims and their near relatives to delete from search result the reports related to rape, murder or other kinds of assaults. But the internet giant also reserves the right to not to delete information that are absolutely in the public interest. According to Google, determining whether the content is in the public interest is a complicated procedure and includes factors like if the content is related to the petitioner’s professional life, a previous crime, political office, position in public life or whether the content is self-authored, government documents or journalistic in nature.
The top ten sites Google eliminated links from signify 9 percent of all the request received by it. Facebook surfaces at the top of the list. This list of removed links also includes Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and Google Groups.