Surfshark recently released a study analyzing the “right to be forgotten” requests. From 2015 to 2021, over 1 million requests were submitted to Google and Microsoft Bing, with half of the requests being from Western European countries. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, “right to be forgotten” cases rose by nearly 30% in 2020. Overall, French requests accounted for nearly a fourth of all submitted requests, while Estonia had the most requests per 10,000 people. Eastern European countries exercised their “right to erasure” the least.
The “right to be forgotten” allows individuals to ask web pages to delist queries related to their name from European search engine result pages. It applies to countries covered by GDPR (the EU and the EEA) and some other European countries that have adopted similar laws, like the UK and Switzerland. Information about requesters within these webpages widely varies, from personal and professional information to connections with criminal activity.
Could this request for privacy and information to be delisted from websites limit the ability insurers have to check for past convictions? That seems likley, as layered or stacked data in the Commercial, Motor or Property sector at the point of quote would need to have a deep insight into an individual’s history to price the risk correctly. If someone can hide a conviction for drink driving, fraud, money laundering or more serious crimes, that obviously has an impact for insurance brands.
There is an ESG aspect to this too. If regulators want insurance companies to verify who runs supplier companies, then restricting the available data is likely to allow rogue directors the chance to bid for contracts knowing their history has been effectively suppressed.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NATIONS
France submitted the most “right to be forgotten” requests between 2015 and 2021, with 255.6k requests accounting for nearly a fourth of all requests submitted over this period. 176.1k requests came from Germany, and 125.3k from the UK, with each country accounting for around 17% and 12% of the total, respectively. Requests submitted by these three countries comprise around half of all “right to be forgotten” requests submitted between 2015 and 2020. All other countries account for less than 10% of the total each.
Regarding request density (i.e., requests per 10k people), Estonia comes first with 53 requests per 10k people (more than 2.5 times higher than average). France takes the second position with 40, and the Netherlands takes third with 32 requests per 10k people. Bulgaria submitted the least requests per 10k people over the years, with around 6, over three times lower than the average of all the examined countries.
Western and Northern Europe have the highest request density, with 28 and 21 requests per 10k people, respectively. Southern Europe issued 16 requests and Eastern Europe issued eight requests per 10k people.
1 in 10 “right to be forgotten” web page delisting requests are crime-related
4,009,729 web pages were included in the requests submitted to Google over 2015-2021. For Google, requesters asked to remove four web pages per request from its search results on average. Around half of the pages asked to be delisted from Google couldn’t be classed into a specific category, and nearly 17% fell under professional information (contained a requester’s work address, contact information, or general information about their business activities).
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