Britons in rush to erase web links

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Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Britons have asked Google to remove more than 60,000 web links from its results under the “right to be forgotten”, the search engine has revealed.

A total of 18,304 requests have been made from the UK alone, while across Europe there have been 145,000 appeals by individuals wanting to clean up their online act – an average of more than 1,000 requests a day.

According to a data released on its website, the firm has removed 35%, or 18,459, of unwanted links to web pages for Britons, who made the third highest number of referrals in the EU behind the French and Germans, with 29,010 and 25,078 respectively.

The company introduced its request process following a European Court of Justice ruling in May that links to irrelevant and outdated data should be erased on request from searches within the EU.

The move sparked concerns over censorship of material which is accurate and in the public domain.

Google listed some examples of the types of requests that are made from the UK, including: “A media professional requested that we remove four links to articles reporting on embarrassing content he posted to the internet. We did not remove the pages from search results.”

Another involved an public official who “asked us to remove a link to a student organisation’s petition demanding his removal. We did not remove the page from search results.”

A doctor petitioned the search engine to have more than 50 links to news stories about a botched procedure removed, and while three that did not mention the procedure were removed from search results for his name, the rest remained.

And in an indication of how the site must be aware of national 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.”

Facebook is the site impacted most, with 3,353 links removed Europe-wide, while YouTube follows profileengine.com into third with almost 2,400 posts removed.

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

Published: Sunday 12th October 2014 by The News Editor

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