The study of the demands of exercising the right to be forgotten among the search engines makes it possible that the Spanish are among the Europeans who make the most requests for the removal of their data from the search engines.
Europeans submitted more than a million “right to be forgotten” requests to Google and Microsoft Bing between 2015 and 2021, according to data from the Surfshark study. According to this report, half of these requests are made by citizens residing in Western European countries. Of the 32 countries resolved, Spain is in fourth place with some 93,000 requests. The majority (90,600) are for Google, while Bing registered 2,500 requests.
Those who most request to be removed from the searches are the French (almost a quarter of all applications submitted). If we examine the number of applications per 10,000 inhabitants, Estonia is the leader in this order. Germany submitted 176,100 applications and the United Kingdom 125,300. Each region is about 17% and 12% of the total, respectively.
This report also indicates that since the Covid-19 pandemic began, requests to exercise the right to be forgotten have increased by almost 30%.
Since European searchers have asked Google to remove an average of four web pages per request from their searches. Over half of the pages to be removed by Google could not be listed in a specific category, and about 17% were professional information (containing the job applicant’s address, contact information, or general information about their business activities).
About 1 in 10 web pages refer the applicant to crimes, including those in their professional field. About 6% contained personal information about the applicant, such as address, residence, and other contact information, such as photos and videos of the person.
What is the right to be forgotten?
The right to be forgotten is recognized by European authorities and allows individuals to ask websites to remove queries related to their name from European search results pages. It is applicable in countries covered by the GDPR (EU and EEA) and other European countries that have adopted similar laws, such as the UK and Switzerland. The information about applicants on these pages is very varied, from personal and professional information to links to criminal activities.
The first year of application was 2015, in which 169,200 applications were submitted per year. After 2015, “Right to be forgotten” requests gradually decreased until 2020. Cases increased by almost 30% in 2020, 161. 3000 total.
Before Spain imposed a €10 million fine on Google to overturn the GDPR policy with requests for “forgetting”, Spaniards submitted 90.6 million requests between 2015 and 2015. and 2021.
Spain also had a 31% increase in 2020, while 2021 saw a further 15% increase overall, with an all-time high of 185,700 applications examined across all regions.
“One of the reasons for the rise of “right to be forgotten” requests in 2020 could be attributed to the CVID-19 pandemic. As many daily activities went virtual, it encouraged people to be more mindful of digital hygiene and review your privacy online,” says Gabriele Kaveckyte, Privacy Advisor at Surfshark. “At the same time, the implementation of the GDPR has been accelerated and continues to enforce online privacy as a fundamental human right to this day.”