Things just got really complicated for Google in Europe following the ruling from the European Court of Justice to let citizens demand their “right to be forgotten” from search engines. Over 12,000 requests were made within the first few hours after Google provided users with a special form.
Two weeks ago, the Court of Justice agreed with a Spanish citizen that Google should remove some links leading to several articles that put him in a bad light, dating back to the 90’s. The judges decided that search engines can be asked to remove links that are no longer relevant.
Of course, this leaves plenty of room for a lot of problems because companies need to decide what kind of information is of public interest, and what data can be removed. There’s a very fine line between the two and Google is still working on finding it and a way to implement a system to comply with the new European decision.
Yesterday, Google published a new form to make it easier for citizens of countries within the European Union to demand the company remove various links. The system is pretty well thought out since it mentions that links leading to several types of information will not be taken out, such as financial fraud, criminal activity and so on, and it requires that people attach a valid ID copy to verify their identity.
While the first should at least deter a large number of people who want to hide their pasts from the search results pages of the world’s biggest search engine, the second will also keep away the pranksters and those who want to damage their competitors.
“The court's ruling requires Google to make difficult judgements about an individual's right to be forgotten and the public's right to know,” a Google spokesperson told Reuters.
Given the backlash against the European Union following the decision, representatives from the data protection authorities of the countries within the Union will discuss the implications of the ruling. Digital right campaigners believe that authorities need to decide on a common approach to guide the search engine companies, which already have a hard time figuring out what type of data is relevant and which can be taken out.
“Companies should not be tasked with balancing fundamental rights or making decisions on the appropriateness, lawfulness, or relevance of information they did not publish,” said Raegan MacDonald, European policy manager at digital rights organization Access.
While it’s true that the decision applies to other search engines too, such as Bing, Yahoo and so on, Europeans are particularly partial to Google, which means it is this Internet giant is the one doing most of the work and receiving most of the requests.