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Google starts removing 'Right to be Forgotten' requests from search

updated 09:13 am EDT, Thu June 26, 2014

European search results for names carry warnings of possible removed listings

Google has started to remove search results in Europe, in accordance with a recent ruling over the "Right to be Forgotten". After receiving requests from Internet users wanting links to be removed from search listings, Google is not only leaving out the URL, but also warning users their search results may have been adjusted to conform to the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling.

The original ruling forces Google to accept requests from individuals to remove personal content from search results in Europe. Shortly after the ruling, Google started to receive requests for the removal of links, including reports of requests from a politician seeking re-election, a doctor wanting negative reviews purged, and a criminal wanting to hide their conviction. The search company later created an official form for requests to pass through, with Google saying it will asses the requests and "attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public's right to know and distribute information."

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google has started to send e-mails in response to user requests, advising of links being taken down. "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."

It is not clear how many requests will be granted in the first wave, nor how many requests Google had received, though the Wall Street Journal notes Google received more than 41,000 removal requests through its web form in its first four days.

Google has now added a warning on searches for people's names, with search pages now stating "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe" and linking to a Google policy page. The warning is said by Google to show "when a user searches for most names, not just pages that have been affected by a removal." This differs from how Google handles other kinds of takedown notices, where it is more direct in stating something has been removed. In this instance, it is more a blanket warning that may or may not apply to searches.

The ruling applies just to searches on regional versions of Google located in Europe, with the warning not visible on the main search.

by MacNN Staff



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