Google rejects most of 15k NL "Forget Me" requests

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No image availableNL Times

Over the past year Google has received 15 thousand requests from Dutch people who wanted search results to be removed - so called "forget me" requests. More than half - 57 percent - of these requests were rejected.

Because of a ruling by the European Court of Justice last year, European internet users now have the right to be forgotten. They can now submit an online form to Google requesting that search results containing information about them be removed. This mostly involves links to things that happened in the past and are no longer relevant, such as embarrassing pictures or stories from one's youth, NOS reports.

After such an request is rejected, the Data Protection Authority (CBP) can ask Google to reconsider, but that doesn't happen very often. "We have remarkably little conflict with Google about this" CBP chairman Jacob Kohnstamm told NOS. "In most of the cases we are presented, we agree with the company." Business people and public figures in particular often have their applications rejected. "If you're a public figure, more may be known about you than if you are a non-public figure", said Kohnstamm.

Forget me requests that were approved by Google include a woman who suffered a serious illness in the past and got publicity for it. She recovered from the disease, but search results for her name still show links to when she was ill. This puts her at a disadvantage when she applies for a job. Another approved request came from a person who was convicted of a serious crime, but then acquitted on appeal.

The rejected requests include one from a public figure requesting that links be removed to articles that state that he committed benefit fraud. Another man was sentenced to 6 years in prison for attempting to hire an assassin. Google decided not to remove the links to articles about this crime as they are still relevant - a Dutch judge agreed with this decision, NOS reports.

With 15 thousand forget me requests in a population of 16.8 million people, the Netherlands has the second highest number of requests. Only Estonia had more requests - 1,777 from a population of 1.3 million.

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