Google Begins Responding To ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Requests
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
On Thursday Google began removing search results in compliance with a European court ruling issued in May that required search engine providers to respond to requests to delete links to outdated information about an individual.
Beginning Thursday, when a user searches for a name via any of Google’s European domains, a warning may be displayed at the bottom of the results page noting, “Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe.”
These warnings will appear on Google’s European search websites including google.fr, google.de and google.co.uk. This warning will not appear on the google.com domain as its .com domain is not targeted at the EU in general.
This week Google is “starting to take action on the removals requests that we’ve received,” Al Verney, a spokesman for the company in Brussels, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Each request has to be assessed individually and we’re working as quickly as possible to get through the queue.”
Google announced that it is working as quickly as possible to get through a queue of requests, which PC World reported numbered as high as 41,000 a month ago. Google would not provide the total number of removal requests that the search giant has received to date.
The search giant set up a web form in response to the ruling, and the company must now weigh individuals’ right to privacy against that of the public interest in making certain information available. When the company receives a complaint it must assess it under the court’s ruling. Items must be removed if they’re “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.”
This particular case began when a Spanish businessman, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, discovered a pair of stories from Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia that covered an auction of his real estate in order to repay his social security debt. As Mr. Gonzalez had settled that case he felt the information was outdated and could harm his reputation. The Spanish data protection agency determined that Google and its Spanish subsidiary should make it impossible for the story to be viewed in the future.
The European Court of Justice agreed and ultimately upheld the verdict – and ruled that permitting access to personal details through search engines indefinitely conflicted with EU data protection directives. Google CEO Larry Page responded that this could have ominous repercussions.
However, Google had responded quickly with this request – possibly to avoid running even afoul with the European Commission.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Sam Schechner reported, “Google’s quick move to implement the ruling by the European Court of Justice is the company’s latest conciliatory move as it faces down European governments and regulators in multiple battles, from antitrust to tax investigations.”