Google Censored over 300,000 Links for European Regulators

Google has censored hundreds of thousands of links to comply with European “right to be forgotten” regulations. A new transparency report reveals that the search giant has complied with 348,508 of the 1,235,473 URLs that users have requested be removed from search results.

Since a 2014 Spanish court ruling that permitted Europeans to force Google to remove links from search results, users who want embarrassing information about themselves scrubbed from the Internet have flooded the company with removal requests.

Google laid out several examples of the kinds of stories that Europeans demand be erased from search results. Perhaps the most famous is a link to a news story about the removal of a link. As Google explains:

After we removed a news story about a minor crime, the newspaper published a story about the removal action. The Information Commissioner’s Office ordered us to remove the second story from search results for the individual’s name. We removed the page from search results for the individual’s name.

Yes, British authorities concluded that news related to censorship activities could be subject to “right to be forgotten” censorship laws.

In addition to revealing the total number of links, Google also listed the 10 top sites for most incriminating and embarrassing stories. No surprise, Facebook takes the cake with over 10,000 removal requests.

European regulators aren’t quite satisfied with the scope of right to be forgotten laws yet. A French agency wants Google to expand removal requests to all sites globally, not just those in the host country. That means if a French court rules that Google’s French version should remove a link, every version and language in Google world-wide should comply.

For obvious reasons, Google is fighting the agency, as this expanded ruling could make all search results subject to the most censor-happy countries in the world.

Readers can see the full report here.

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