Google Starts Removing Links in Europe Under “Right to Be Forgotten” [WSJ]

Google has been working on a way to start honoring these requests for over a month

Beginning today, Google will start honoring “right to be forgotten” link removal requests, a month and a half after the European Court of Justice ruled that people have the right to ask search engines to remove links to irrelevant content about them from results pages.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company’s engineers have updated the technical infrastructure to start implementing the removals. They have already began sending out emails to individuals and informing them that their requests have been granted.

Despite the fact that the company has received several tens of thousands of requests within a few days, Google has only gone through a small part of them, which is understandable, considering that there’s no automated process to decide which requests go through and which are rejected.

“This week we're starting to take action on the removals requests that we've received. This is a new process for us. Each request has to be assessed individually, and we're working as quickly as possible to get through the queue,” Google said.

The company has a long way to go, which means that it’s going to take a while before it catches up to the rather long list of demands.

Following the decision taken by the European Court of Justice, Google has implemented a system to submit requests to it. In order to make sure that there is no foul play, the company has made it mandatory for those who submit demands to provide a copy of an ID to match the name targeted by the link removal request, even if it comes from a third party, like a lawyer or legal representative.

The list of things that people have to provide includes the targeted links and a justification for each of them, explaining why the information is no longer relevant. This should deter people from asking Google to take down random content they just don’t like.

Furthermore, Google has made it rather clear that it will not remove links if they are related to criminal activity, financial fraud, professional malpractice, public conduct of government officials and more.

The mentions were justified from Google’s part considering that as soon as the Court announced the decision, the search engine received demands from a politician, a criminal and a child abuser and the trend most likely continued throughout the following weeks.

It will be some more time before Google figures out a way to automate the decision-making system since these decisions are rather subjective.

When links are removed, a notice will appear in the lower area of the page, just like it does when other type of content is removed, such as following DMCA requests.

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