Google pressed to disclose more about ‘right to be forgotten’ cases

Google this week updated its transparency report about the number of “right to be forgotten” requests it has received in Europe, where it is required to consider requests to remove search results. As I wrote yesterday, the company also released other details about how it handles requests, including providing examples of the requests it has approved and ones it has rejected. But a group of 80 academics and experts want more.

In an open letter to the company, the group is calling for more information about the types of RTBF requests that are granted and denied, where they come from, and better insight into how Google makes these decisions.

“Google and other search engines have been enlisted to make decisions about the proper balance between personal privacy and access to information,” the letter reads. “The vast majority of these decisions face no public scrutiny, though they shape public discourse. What’s more, the values at work in this process will/should inform information policy around the world. A fact-free debate about the RTBF is in no one’s interest.”

The group said “the public should be able to find out how digital platforms exercise their tremendous power over readily accessible information.”

As I noted yesterday, Google has a 10-member advisory council that discusses requests that aren’t easily handled by the lawyers and engineers it has working on the cases. One of those members, Peggy Valcke, signed the open letter.

The Guardian got comment from Google: “Our transparency report is always evolving and it’s helpful to have feedback like this so we know what information the public would find useful. We will consider these ideas, weighing them against the various constraints within which we have to work –operationally and from a data protection standpoint.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that Google is in talks with regulators over 48 RTBF cases the U.K.’s Information Commissioner’s Office “believed Google had not got ‘quite right.'”

 

Photo from AFP/Getty Images

 

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