updated 08:14 am EDT, Fri July 11, 2014
Google legal chief outlines removal request difficulties following EU court ruling
Google is still being swamped with requests to remove website listings in Europe, following the Court of Justice of the European Union's ruling on the "right to be forgotten." Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer David Drummond claims the search company has received more than 70,000 takedown requests since the ruling in May, with the requests covering 250,000 webpage listings in its search results.
Writing in The Guardian, Drummond advises that Google is compelled to expand its existing removals list, consisting of subjects deemed illegal by a court, sensitive personal information, malware, and other items, to results requested for removal that include names if they are "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive." On top of this, Google has to judge if a requested listing removal is against the public interest, with the connection being considered "very vague and subjective tests."
While it does not explain specific cases, such as the temporary removal of a BBC story concerning the ousting of a former head of an investment bank, the article outlines the difficulties and the variety of requests Google receives. Google now has a "team of people reviewing each application individually, in most cases with limited information and almost no context," writes the Google legal officer.
Examples of the kind of tricky requests Google receives includes those from former politicians wanting posts critical of policies removed, criminals wanting to hide news stories for violent crimes, poor reviews for professionals, and regretful comments people have written themselves but cannot remove. "In each case someone wants the information hidden, while others might argue that it should be out in the open," advises Drummond before explaining the reasoning process the removals team takes.
Google has also set up an advisory council, containing experts in the fields of technology, data protection, the media, and academia, all of which will provide feedback to Google. "The council will be asking for evidence and recommendations from different groups, and will hold public meetings this autumn across Europe to examine these issues more deeply."