The Court of Justice of the European Union recently ruled that Google and other search engines must take requests for search results to be deleted in what has become known as the “right to be forgotten”. Google then made a request tool available, and immediately started averaging about 10,000 requests per day.
That number may dwindle a bit once the tool has been around for a while, but it’s clear that a lot of people aren’t happy with the search results that are out there about them, and intend to see these results removed from public view. Google and other search engines may ultimately not comply with such requests – they’ll be evaluated on a case-by-case basis – but we’ll at least get a good idea of what the numbers look like from time to time.
The Guardian is reporting that Google intends to include the “right to be forgotten” requests in its bi-annual transparency reports, which have historically shown takedown request numbers related to government and copyright requests, as well as requests for information about users.
The company describes its report as “data that sheds light on how laws and policies affect Internet users and the flow of information online.”
The Guardian also reiterates that Google will likely alert users on search results pages when content has been removed. Josh Halliday reports:
The search engine is considering placing an alert at the bottom of each page where it has removed links in the wake of the landmark “right to be forgotten” ruling last month.
It is understood Google is planning to flag censored search results in a similar way to how it alerts users to takedown requests over copyright infringing material. For example, a Google search for “Adele MP3” shows that it has removed a number of results from that page after receiving complaints under the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Search reporter Danny Sullivan spoke to Google about its plans recently, and also said that Google would show users when content has been removed.
Ironically, by doing so, Google will show users that the subject of their search has something to hide – something so bad that they’ve gone to great lengths to have that it removed from Google search results. In some cases, this could be just as damaging to the subject’s reputation as if the results were even there in the first place. At least if the results were there, the searcher would know what they were dealing with.
More on how Google’s new tool works here.
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