News websites in top 10 for ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

News sites in Ireland are nearly twice as likely as elsewhere to be the subject of ‘right to be forgotten’ requests.

Google Headquarters in Dublin.

These account for 35% of web pages on Irish web domains that internet search engine Google has been asked to remove from its search results.

The corresponding figure across all countries is less than 18% of the 2.4m requests since January 2016, according to a significant update by the company to its transparency report.

Google has previously provided data about the numbers of requests it receives and the proportion which result in web pages being delisted.

However, it has expanded the analysis by also now providing details of the type of site whose content is the subject of requests, the category of requesters and the nature of the content they want removed.

In Ireland, the average request related to more than three web pages, with nearly 5,400 requests to date relating to 17,654 pages.

The 10 websites that were subject of most requests here in the past two years, on foot of a 2014 European Court of Justice ruling, include four news sites.

The site with most delisted web pages is independent.ie, for which 390 web pages were removed from search results out of 1,284 pages that were the subject of ‘right to be forgotten’ requests.

The Irish Independent’s website was followed by irishtimes.com, for which 167 pages were delisted, herald.ie (76 pages delisted), and irishexaminer.com (56 pages delisted).

The proportion of news site pages requested to be delisted which were subsequently removed from search results by Google ranges from just over one in six on irishexaminer.com to nearly one in three on irishtimes.com. 

The removal of historic court reports accounts for high volumes of communications with news sites.

The Google report shows that crime was the content of 28% of Irish-domain news site pages requested to be delisted.

In Ireland, social media sites Facebook and Twitter had 133 and 119 pages delisted respectively. More than 40 pages each from Google Plus and video-sharing site YouTube were delisted in response to requests.

Other sites in the top 10 with most delisted pages were profileengine.com which enables searches of social network profiles, and highbeam.com, which describes itself as a premium research and information service.

Globally, Facebook has been the subject of most ‘right to be forgotten’ traffic, with nearly 18,500 of 43,883 pages requested to be delisted being removed from search results.

The search engine company reported that 44% of the 2m-plus pages it has assessed were subsequently delisted.

Where a request for a web page link to be delisted is refused by a search engine operator, the person or entity can appeal to the relevant data protection authority in their country.

The office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Ireland investigated 21 complaints concerning the right to be forgotten last year, and one-third of those which were decided up to recently had been upheld.



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