Earlier this month, Google suffered a massive court defeat. Europe’s highest court ruled that there is a “right to be forgotten” in EU law that Google has to comply with. Google must purge its servers of harmful or unwanted personal content if asked by the person it relates to.
Today, Google announced it is taking the steps to create a method for users to request removal of search results.
According to the Financial Times, Google released a statement talking about the challenges of implementing such a solution. The tech company cites the “many languages that are affected here” as one of the obstacles. The solution is being developed right now, but “could take several weeks.”
On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice ruled that search engines are subject to data protection rules. People have the right to request removal of links to “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” personal data. It doesn’t matter if that same information is published legally.
Google’s Eric Schmidt Response to Ruling
Google held its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. Executive chairman Eric Schmidt was on hand to talk about the ruling. “A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google’s perspective that’s a balance,” said Schmidt.
“Google believes having looked at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong.”
How will this work with public figures? The European Court of Justice said search engines can fight the request and refer it to a data protection authority or court.
Google is already receiving takedown requests. BBC News has found several requests for link removals. They include a doctor wanting negative reviews from patients to disappear. I can see this type being extremely popular.
Another includes a former politician wanting links to an article about his behavior while in office removed. And, a man convicted of possessing child pornography wants the links to pages about his conviction to be removed.
Google is going to have its hands full with the flood of requests. How Google handles the varying requests will be interesting. Individuals can “bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results” if Google refuses link removal requests.