Discover what is the Right to Be Forgotten

Reputation VIP conducted a study on the Right To Be Forgotten from June 2014 to May 2018 on 203,418 URLs made via 27,868 requests submitted with Forget.me. Over the same period, Google received 2.5 million URLs. This study therefore is made from a sample representing 8.1% of all European requests sent to Google.

This study shows that the Right To Be Forgotten is a right that is favored by Europeans and used mostly for simple requests (de-indexing a URL linked to a personal address, termination, school results, political or religious opinions…). It is a right used in all European countries.

Most requests concern invasion of privacy

Number of URL by type of requests

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The “invasion of privacy” category represents 63% of the URLs submitted.

Number of URL from “Invasion of privacy”

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Within the “invasion of privacy” category, most URLs concern personal address disclosure, which accounts for 42%.

The requests mainly concern information on the first page of Google

URL’s position in Google

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43% of URLs are located on page 1 of Google at the time of the request. The first 3 pages of Google concentrate 75% of the requests. Internet users seek to delist URLs that are visible. One can see that when information is put forward by the search engine, the Internet user asks for it to be delisted.

Requests come from all European countries

Number of URL by country

 

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France is the leading country in URL volume followed by Germany and the United Kingdom. But it is not the first country in proportion to its population.

The Netherlands has the highest number of URL per capita

Number of URL submitted by year for 10 000 inhabitants

 

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On average, the Dutch demand to delist 20.5 URLs per year per 10,000 inhabitants. Next come the Norwegians, French and Swedes who have an average around 19 URLs while the European average is 12.

Google refuses 56% of the requests

Answers from Google

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Google has refused to delist 56% of the 2,170,077 URLs he gave an answer to.

Press websites are barely affected by the right to be forgotten

Number of URL by type of website

 

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Press websites account for 5.1% of the requests for the right to be forgotten.
This study was conducted on 141,699 URLs in 4 countries (France, Germany, UK, Spain)

Google overwhelmingly rejects to delist press articles

Answer from Google on press website

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In the case of press articles, Google refuses to delist 81% of the URLs. For Wikipedia this rate rises to 89%.

Answer from Google on Wikipedia

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Study conducted on May 12, 2016 on 83,786 URLs in 4 countries (France, Germany, UK, Spain)

Reason No. 1 for refusal concerns URLs related to professional activity

Number of URL by type of refusal

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When Google refuses an URL, it motivates its refusal by a standard email. We detected 10 different emails. The main reason for refusal concerns URLs related to professional activity, which correspond to 31.6% of rejection cases.

Highlights of the Right To Be Forgotten from 2014 to 2018

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Mai 13, 2014

Decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the “Google spain” ruling, which allows Internet users to ask search engines to delist “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” information. The “right to be forgotten” or more exactly “right to delisting” is launched.

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Mai 29, 2014

Google puts online its right to forget form

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June 23, 2014

Reputation VIP launches Forget.me

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June 26, 2014

Google starts removing URLs from its search results in Europe

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June 30, 2014

1st statistics from Forget.me: Reputation VIP analyzes the type of requests

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July 1,2014

Google begins to warn webmasters of the delisting of URLs

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July 16, 2014

An American developer creates http ://hiddenfromgoogle.com/ to list the delisted URLs from the Google engine

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August 6, 2014

Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia states that the right to be forgotten is “deeply immoral” and announces that all Wikipedia URLs that will be delisted will be made public.

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September 9, 2014

Google creates an Advisory Committee on the right to be forgotten

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September 25, 2014

Bertrand Girin participates in Google’s advisory committee on the right to be forgotten in Paris

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November 26, 2014

G29 adopts guidelines to ensure harmonized application of the right to be forgotten

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December 15, 2014

The Ethics Committee of Reputation VIP publishes “An ethics of the Right To Be Forgotten, the ethics of the hippocampus”.

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May 12, 2015

Reputation VIP releases a study of one year of statistics on the right to be forgotten

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May 15, 2015

Google delists on all its search engines the compromising photos of Max Mosley following an agreement whose terms remain confidential

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March 24, 2016

CNIL fines Google 100,000 euros for refusing to extend the delisting of URLs of the right to be forgotten outside its European engines. More to read: Why does Google want to define borders for the Right to be Forgotten?  The French CNIL instructs Google to broaden its ‘right to be forgotten’

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June 28, 2017

Supreme Court of Canada forces Google to delist links worldwide in Equustek case

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June 28, 2017

In the analysis of the dispute between the CNIL and Google, the Council of State recommends consulting the ECJ to define the territoriality of the right to be forgotten.

History of Forget.me

Between 2014 and 2018, Europeans have submitted more than 2.5 million URLs to Google as part of the right to be forgotten (RTBF) showing that this innovative right has been embraced by Europeans!
 8,1% of these URLs were submitted via Forget.me, a free service launched by Reputation VIP in June 2014 to help European Internet users in their RTBF requests.

Beyond the help given to European residents who are often lost when filling out the RTBF form, this free European service has made it possible to campaign for more transparency from search engines while reinforcing the necessary concept of individual autonomy in terms of control of personal information.

By collecting data on the types of requests and responses from Google and Bing, Forget.me has proved to be a useful source of knowledge that the press has praised on numerous occasions. Forget.me has provided transparency on the reality of the RTBF by publishing statistics on several occasions and by participating in the Google Advisory Committee on the right to be forgotten.

What lessons can we learn ?

From these 4 exciting years where Reputation VIP has been very involved on the subject of the right to be forgotten,
here are the 5 lessons we learn:

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The right to be forgotten answers a real need of individuals

2.5 million URLs received by Google between May 2014 and May 2018, 1,700 URLs per day on average.  is due to the simplicity of itsimplementation (free, online form)

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Most of the requests are related to information that violates individual privacy and that is located on the first 2 pages of Google

According to the study published on 24 May 2018 by Reputation VIP, requests concerning invasion of privacy represent 63% of URLs to be forgotten. 64% of the URLs submitted by applicants are located on the first 2 pages of Google at the time of the request.

Making search engines handle the RTBF process is effective

This made possible the effective treatment of requests (average delay of 14 days to have a response from Google), without impacting public finances. It allows the individual to have a quick response from the search engine and, in case of refusal, to opt for an appeal to the local DPA or a competent court.

The right to be forgotten is not an instrument of censorship

 Reputation VIP showed that press sites represent 5.1% of the URLs of the right to be forgotten and that Google refuses to delist 81% of these URLs. It is also interesting to note that in 4 years, 306 wikipedia pages have been delisted worldwide out of a total of 48 million pages, i.e. a delisting rate of 0.0006%.

The one holding the data is King

Forget.me has demonstrated a different reality of the right to be forgotten from that exposed by search engines when this right originated. When only one entity holds the data, there is a risk that the information disclosed will be biased. The July 14, 2015 Guardian article “Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests” also highlights the difference between the reality of the right to be forgotten and what Google wanted to disclose.

Why are you closing this service?

Under the impetus of the G29 (grouping of the European Data Protection Agencies), the right to be forgotten has been protected and has matured. The legislator has protected this right by including it in the General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR). This will be followed by the ePrivacy Regulations (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations), which will continue to specify and reinforce the notion of “freely given consent”.

Forget.me’s mission must also evolve. Reputation VIP is focusing on its business of managing online reputation and Google SEO for brands. It focuses its research and development resources on understanding how the Google search engine works in order to enable its customers to have an optimized positioning on Google.

Who are we?

Reputation VIP manages SEO and Online Reputation of brands and executives.

Through a unique technology, Reputation VIP’s experts accompany their clients to improve their Online Reputation and their SEO rankings. Founded in 2012, Reputation VIP has won several innovation awards (Jeune Entreprise Innovante, Novacité, Fonds d’innovation du Rhône, Pass French Tech) and has over 300 clients.