In an open letter to European data protection agencies, Google catalogs the major challenges it is facing with the European Union’s controversial “right to be forgotten law,” which allows EU citizens to request that specific links be removed from Google search results in order to preserve their privacy. Google began complying with the decision in June when it unveiled an official submission website, where users can fill out a detailed form to request the deletion of links to publishers, blog posts, social media, and more.
The new site has already seen quite the workload, too: So far, there have been over 91,000 submissions requesting that 328,000 links be removed.
Google must read through each submission form individually, and it is unlikely that it has even gotten through its current backlog. Logistical challenges were inevitable, but further complicating matters is that each request is unlikely to be an open-and-shut case. In fact, “some requests turn out to have made with false and inaccurate information,” Google said in a statement. “We generally have to rely on the requester for information, without assurance beyond the requester’s own assertions as to its accuracy.”
You can see why sifting through each request individually presents a logistical mountain to climb. Making Google solely culpable for the decisions shaping a citizen’s online history strikes some critics as misguided, never mind its effect on free speech.
That said, here’s another interesting nugget regarding Google’s troubles, as pointed out by the New York Times, which illustrates the difficulty of the task at hand:
Google said it had rejected a number of requests made by journalists, who wanted links to articles at publications where they no longer worked to be taken down, according to the company’s statement.