In response to the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” ruling, which we posted about last month, Google has launched a form, which allows individuals to apply for inadequate or irrelevant information about them to be extricated from search results pages
This is a step that Google has taken reluctantly, admitting last month that the ruling was “disappointing” and that it needs time to “analyse the implications” of the new law. And Google is not alone in its skepticism; critics of the European Court ruling say that it could limit free speech, protect criminals from being named and shamed and retain information that is in the public’s interest.
Since the “right to be forgotten” decision was finalised, Google has received a deluge of requests from individuals asking for links to pages containing information about them to be removed – among them was a paedophile, a man who was caught in possession of child pornography and a doctor who wanted bad reviews about him to be removed from the web. This has sparked fresh concerns that information that the public should know about will be removed from results pages.
However, Google has assured users that it will “assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know.” The search engine also wrote “We’re working to finalise our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and we will notify you when we start processing your request. We appreciate your patience.”
Since the launch of the form on Friday 30th May, Google has received a reported average of 10,000 requests per day – one every seven seconds – from Europeans looking to exercise their right to be forgotten. Below is an example of Google’s preliminary removal request form (click to enlarge). This will no doubt be altered over the coming months as the search engine continues to simplify and refine the complicated process of removing certain links from results pages on a case-by-case basis.
Alongside their photo ID, users of the form are required to submit information such as their name, email address, URLs that they want to be removed and the reason why the link is, as worded by Google, “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.”