Google accidentally leaks ‘right to be forgotten’ data, 95% from the general public

The Guardian

In May 2014, Google started receiving request from Europe’s “right to be forgotten” ruling. The European Court of Justice found that Google and other search engines are responsible for removing unwanted links when requested if it was not in the public interest to keep them.

Google released information through their transparency report that highlighted requests by criminals, politicians, and public figures.

However, in their latest transparency report, Google made a mistake by leaving some data in their code that The Guardian found and published.

What the U.K. newspaper found was that over 95% of Google’s privacy requests were from citizens protecting personal and private information. Only 5% of the 218,320 requests were from criminals, politicians and public figures.

The vast majority of successful take down requests, nearly 100,000, fell into the private personal information category. 1,892 request were granted in connection with crime and politics.

“If most of the requests are private and personal ones, then it’s a good law for the individuals concerned. It seems there is a need for this — and people go for it for genuine reasons.” – Paul Bernal, technology law lecturer at UEA Law School, told the Guardian

Europe’s law currently places the responsibility of the de-listing process with the service providers. Google’s reporting to the public is voluntary.

Since the data was released, Google has changed their site to remove the information The Guardian found.

Google issued a statement the The Guardian: “We’ve always aimed to be as transparent as possible about our right to be forgotten decisions. The data the Guardian found in our Transparency Report’s source code does of course come from Google, but it was part of a test to figure out how we could best categorize requests. We discontinued that test in March because the data was not reliable enough for publication. We are however currently working on ways to improve our transparency reporting.”


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