• Germany's news in English

60,000 Germans want Google to forget them

AFP · 26 Nov 2015, 08:45

Published: 26 Nov 2015 08:45 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Silicon Valley-based Google, a subsidiary of newly-created parent company Alphabet, complied with less that half of the demands, basing decisions on criteria intended to balance privacy with the public's right to know.

A report released on Wednesday by Google showed that the top country for requests was France, where the Internet giant is in a standoff with data protection officials.

France was the country with the top number of requests, accounting for 73,399 applications aimed at nearly a quarter of a million URLs, followed by Germany with 60,198 requests concerning 220,589 URLs.

A European Court of Justice ruling in May 2014 recognizing the "right to be forgotten" on the net opened the door for Google users to ask the search engine to remove results about them that are inaccurate or no longer relevant.

Google set up an online form that people in Europe can fill out to ask for information to be excluded from search results.

Similar processes have been put in place to ask to be forgotten by Microsoft's Bing search engine that also powers queries at Yahoo.

It is the Internet companies themselves who get to decide which requests to grant.

Microsoft previously disclosed that in the first half of this year it got 3,546 requests that online information be forgotten by Bing, granting half of them.

In the report released on Wednesday, Google said that right-to-be-forgotten requests have targeted slightly more than 1.23 million Internet pages (URLs), and that it agreed to remove 42 percent of them from online search results in Europe.

Some crimes vanish

In Germany, Google granted 48.2 percent of the takedown requests, a similar level to France but much higher than the UK, Spain or Italy.

Google granted about 38 percent of the 43,101 requests submitted in the United Kingdom; 37 percent of the 33,106 requests in Spain, and just shy of 30 percent of the 26,186 requests made in
fifth-placed Italy.

The search giant also complied with nearly 46 percent of the 10,121 requests in Belgium, nearly 41 percent of the 9,687 requests in Sweden, and about 45 percent of the 8,339 requests in Switzerland.

A Google outline of scenarios leading to information being forgotten in searches included pages with content solely about someone's health, race, religion or sexual orientation.

Common causes for "delisting" pages also included criminal convictions regarding children or stories focusing on criminal charges that were subsequently overturned by courts.

Google said that it had endorsed requests from crime victims or their families to remove from search results news reports of rapes, murders or other assaults.

"We may decline to delist if we determined that the page contains information which is strongly in the public interest," Google said in an online post.

Story continues below…

"Determining whether content is in the public interest is complex and may mean considering many diverse factors."

The list of factors included whether content relates to the petitioner's professional life, a past crime, political office, position in public life, or whether the content itself is self-authored content, government documents, or journalistic in nature, according to Google.

Social network memories

Facebook was the top online spot where people wanted information forgotten from searches, with a total of 10,220 URLs removed, according to Google.

The second most common venue for removals was profileengine.com, with 7,986 links to the people-focused search engine removed from Google search results, the report indicated.

The list of Top 10 sites for URLs to be forgotten included Google Groups, YouTube, Badoo, Annuaire, Twitter, and the Google+ social network.

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd