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How does Google decide who gets to be forgotten?

It's been a year since the European Union ruled that people have the right to be forgotten on Google. What that basically means is that everyone has the right to ask Google to remove certain links from their search engine results, and those links are often news reports of felonies and misdemeanours from their past.

People most often ask Google to remove such links as it makes finding a new job an impossible task, among other things.

But just because someone asked Google to remove certain links, it doesn’t mean it has to listen. So how does the search engine giant decide who gets to have their name cleared, and who doesn’t?

A report from The Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab) explains: First of all, the reports are submitted through Google’s Web form. They head over to “a large team of lawyers, paralegals and engineers who decide the easy cases”.

Easy cases are mostly “little shoplifting thing, the little this or that,” Google’s global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer said at a data-privacy conference in Berlin.

When it comes to “tougher” cases – they are sent to a senior team at Google, and sometimes they even call international team members over Hangouts to discuss the case. If the problems are really knotty, outside experts are sometimes called in.

Mr Fleischer also explained how a tougher case looks like:

“A German national was convicted in the U.S. of a sex crime that occurred when he was 16 years old. The victim was two years younger than him. In the U.S., his name was published. Under German law, his name wouldn’t have been published because he was a minor.”

Sometimes they easily agree on certain action, but sometimes these discussions get really intense, he added. A year in to the process, there have been 250,000 requests relating to 920,000 links. So far, 35 per cent have been removed and 50 per cent left as they are, while 15 per cent remain undecided.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.