12 Oct 2014

Around 18,000 Brits want Google to forget them

More than one in ten requests for Google to remove web links under the European “right to be forgotten” laws have come from the UK, the search engine reveals. But why have they made the requests?


A total of 145,000 appeals by individuals wanting search results about them to disappear were made across Europe, with 18,304 coming from the UK.

The most requests came from France with 29,010 people wanting to clear up their act online. Germany was second with 25,078 requests.

Google said that it had removed 35 per cent of requests made by Britons, equating to 18,459 URLs. Facebook is the site affected most, with 3,353 URLs removed from search results. YouTube had 2,397 URLs removed, whilst directory enquiries website 192.com had 1,412 URLs removed from Google searches.

The web giant was forced to introduce the “right to be forgotten” request process following a European Court of Justice ruling in May, Google Spain V AEPD and Mario Costeja González. The Spanish man objected to the fact that Google searches of his name threw up links to a 1998 newspaper article about the repossession of his home.

Mr González said the matter had been resolved – that he had auctioned his home to pay his debts – and that a search of his name should no longer recover this information.

Embarrassing content

Google listed examples of some of the requests it had received on its website. One request came from a UK media professional who requested that google removed four links to articles reporting on embarrassing content he posted to the internet. Google declined the request.

Another request came from a public official who asked for links to a student petition demanding his removal be hidden in Google search results. This request was also rejected.

But Google did acquiesce to some requests, often based on local laws. It said: “A man asked that we remove a link to a news summary of a local magistrate’s decisions that included the man’s guilty verdict. Under the UK Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, this conviction has been spent. The pages have been removed from search results for his name.”

The ‘right to be forgotten’ requests can be made by more than 500 million people living in 32 countries.