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Google and the ‘Right To Be Forgotten’: Malek Mokrani’s request refused despite proof of Theft of Identity

December 2014 by Bertrand Girin, Reputation VIP’s President.

Malek Mokrani, victim of a vast case of identity of theft, used to exercise his Right To Be Forgotten on Google. One month later the answer to the request was NO!

Malek, however, has the benefit of a court decision that proves that the social network accounts for which he has made a link removal request, are effectively fraudulent.

Google justifies it’s answer with a standard refusal phrase for social network accounts « It appears you are the author of the content that you have asked to be removed […] We recommend you use the tools available from the social media website in question […] the most effective way for you to remove social media content from search results… »

Over the past few years, Malek has been under attack by a former associate who has set up dozens of false accounts under his name on social networks, registered him on pornographic websites, and sent hundreds of offensive emails to all his contacts. He has of course no possible access to these accounts and therefore cannot modify them as Google has suggested. « My life has been ruined, my professional contacts lost trust in me, my health deteriorated, I had to leave my apartment and my daughter doesn’t even want to bear my last name anymore! For the past 4 years I’ve been passed off as a crook, a pedophile, a cocaine addict… I won my lawsuit and despite this, Google sends me a standardized answer, as would a robot. » explains Malek Mokrani. Notwithstanding, when he made his link removal request he offered to provide documents proving that his harasser has been convicted of this offence « The information is detrimental to me […], it’s illegal, and the referencing of this information on the internet is harmful to my reputation. A court decision proves the theft of my identity, I can send you proof if necessary ». Surprisingly the search engine has never asked to see it.

A 2nd right to be forgotten request, relative to URLs of online directories, has simultaneously been sent. This time, Google answered and asked for a justification of the ties between Malek Mokrani and France1. Malek Mokrani is Algerian by nationality but has been living in France for the past 24 years. He sent the request to Google with a copy of his 10 year residence permit. “I don’t understand why Google is asking me to justify my ties with France even though I provided a copy of my residence permit. The right to be forgotten is for all European residents, regardless of their nationality. Why is Google making a distinction in my case?” asks Malek Mokrani.

6 months after publishing its Right To Be Forgotten form, has Google improved its response process?

 Processing requests

The delay in handling requests has stabilized to around 30 days. The delay is still too long, according to Malek.

Month Average delay in handling (in days)
June 56
July 44 August 26
September 34
October 26

 Does Google say Yes more often or No?

Positive answers are around 30%. We can see a clear drop in this percentage over time.

 What type of request is used most frequently? Requests related to private life represent 54% of all requests.

1 Here is Google’s answer : “After reviewing your complaint, it is unclear what association you have to the country you’ve identified. In order for us to investigate the matter, please supply us with this information. To do this, please explain the connection you have with the following countries: France”

Type of Request % d’URLs Invasion of Privacy 54%
Prejudicial to reputation 13%
Identity Theft 4%
Prejudicial to the image 4%
Criminal proceedings 3%
Deceased person 2%
Presumption of Innocence 1%
Homonymy 1%
Other 18%
Total 100%

Link removal requests for Identity Theft represent 4% of sent requests. It’s the 3rd most used category for the Right To Be Forgotten requests. 186 requests from this category have been made to « Behind the right to be forgotten requests, there are often people that suffer. An unwarranted refusal of the search engine only makes the suffering grow heavier and not being able to converse with the search engine creates a very strong sense of frustration » stressed Bertrand Girin, Reputation VIP’s President.

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