The Free Internet Project

Google wins first appeal of right to be forgotten rejection in Finland

After Google decides whether to accept or reject a right to be forgotten removal request from a person in the European Union, the claimant can appeal any adverse decision to the national data protection authority.  Finland just reported its first appeal.  Finnish Data Protection Ombudsman Reijo Aarnio agreed with Google's decision to reject a businessman's attempt to remove links to articles about his past business mistakes. Aarnio ruled that "there was no need to delete the search results because Finland’s business register lists the man as still being involved in business operations, including debt collection."  The rejection was not surprising as Google has consistently been rejecting requests to delink articles related to a person's current profession.

Finland's Ombudsman has 30 other appeals.  The number indicates that only 1.5% of the 2,035 rejections by Google in Finland have been appealed.  That's a very low number of appeals--which suggests that people may be accepting or at least acquiescing in Google's judgments.  Google has received approximately 3,700 requests from people in Finland for 12,000 links to articles.  Google accepted 45% and rejected 55% requests--an approval rate that is roughly 3% better than the overall rate for the entire EU.  

Recent data from appeals in Ireland indicate a similar appeal rate.  Only 1.8% (30) of 1,633 rejected requests thus far have been appealed to the Irish data protection authority. Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon said, "In a number of cases, having analysed the complaint, we have concurred with Google and understood the reasons why they refused the delisting. In a number of other cases, we have disagreed and have set out our views to Google. They have then been resolved to the data subject's satisfaction."  These numbers suggest that Google is doing a relatively acceptable job in how it is processing EU right to be forgotten requests.  It is perhaps surprising that after 1 year of decisions, only 1 plus percent of Google's decisions are being appealed to the national data protection authorities.