Removing images from Google under a right to be forgotten is often one of the most challenging aspects of a right to be forgotten application. There are many reasons for this. The key, however, is to understand how Google images library works and to be persistent.
Why it is difficult to remove images from Google image library under a right to be forgotten
Nearly anyone who ever tried to ask Google to remove links to images from Google search results under a right to be forgotten, would have found the task extremely challenging. To understand why having removal of images from Google is so tasking, you first need to understand how Google stores images. In a nutshell, to make images downloading quickly to search result, Google manages scores of servers where footprints of each image is being stored. Those servers exist all over the world and are managed by a Google group that is completely separate from the group manages Google search results. Bing and Yahoo operate similar systems.
Google tends to store copies of images in image libraries, which are located in 14 different locations around the world. Often you will find that an image that has already been removed by Google from search results or from what you believe is the image original location will still appear on search results but will have an unusual URL such as https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pklnm5Vdgrh-8KWyPYgzgJZB4dzLbu5wEfW91RniOKjjA1vEr7IvNl9En-yNSMikaIP0EUwb1m8=w128-h128-e365
This URL indicates that the image is stored on one of Google’s image libraries. It could become a real challenge to persuade Google to delete an offending image from one of its image library, perhaps because this task involves specific technical requirements that are not always understood by those at Google who are in charge of de-listing information. Often, your request to Google to remove images from search results and your associated recommendations to Google will be passed on to the Google technical team who might need constant chasing and reminders before they take the necessary action to remove the image from the internet library.
What images are most difficult to remove from Google searches
Images that are particularly difficult to remove from Google searches, tend to be images that had already been deleted from the original location or website but where a copy of the image had been left on one of Google’s image libraries. Often with our experience in asking Google to remove images from search results, we need to assess the evidence and in each case and explain the issues back, clearly,to Google.
It could take weeks and even months for Google to completely clear its image library from traces of an unwanted image.
Images that had been uploaded to Google blogging platform, Blogger, also are very challenging to delist. This is particularly the case if the Blogger site (or BlogSpot as it used to be called) has been deleted. Often people who delete their Blogger blog, forget to first delete the images from the blog's image library which means that despite the fact that the blog is deleted, together with all its text content, the images remain in Google image libraries, which means they will still show on Google search results. The most significant challenge in this situation the fact that it is only Google who can now access those images and have them deleted. Google is usually reluctant to do that.
An additional issue that our clients tend to have with removing images from Google is that often, websites have multiple versions of an image, different sizes or different resolution. Those images might have been uploaded to a website more than once or might have been edited inside a the website with a new copy of the image created automatically.
How can I remove images from Google under a right to be forgotten
The right to be forgotten applies in relation to text and images. There are also other European privacy laws that specifically apply to images. See for example Who owns my image. You can use the right to be forgotten to request Google removal of images but be prepare for Google to reject your request on the grounds of public interest or by claiming that the image that you are asking Google to remove from searches has been legitimately uploaded by someone who owns the copyright to the image. In some cases, it might be possible to force Google to delist and entire webpage if you can show that your image is being displayed on that webpage contrary to your legal rights under a right to be forgotten.