Following an EU Court of Justice ruling on 13th May 2014, giving citizens the “right to be forgotten”, Google has set up a service allowing Europeans to ask for personal data to be removed from online search results.
The court ruled that links to out-dated and irrelevant data should be removed on request.
As part of the service, Google has said that each request will be assessed and balance “privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information”.
On the form which applicants must fill in, Google state that, “When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information”.
The tech giant also said that, while they decide on the request they will look at information relating to “financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials”.
It was learned, by the BBC that over half of the requests from the UK individuals involved convicted criminals, such as one man who requested links to pages containing information about his conviction of the possession of child abuse images, to be wiped.
The removal of links will begin from mid-June, Google have added that any affected results will be flagged to searchers.
Decisions of data removal would be made by people as opposed to the algorithms that oversee the operation of almost every other part of Google’s search facility. Any disagreements on the removal of information will be overseen by national data protection agencies.
Such removals will only apply to searched made with the EU, searches conducted outside of this region will still show the data.
The case was brought to the Court of Justice by a Spanish national who complained that information appearing on Google in relation to an auction notice of his repossessed home infringed his privacy.
This lead to Google’s announcement, made on Friday, stating that EU citizens can provide links to the material they want removing, along with their country of origin and reasons for their request, via an online form, to request the removal of private data from the search engine.
As part of the request, individuals will also have to provide valid photo identity.
The firm commented,
“Google often receives fraudulent removal requests from people impersonating others, trying to harm competitors, or improperly seeking to suppress legal information.
“To prevent this kind of abuse, we need to verify identity”.
Google boss, Larry Page, in an interview with the Financial Times, said that the firm will comply with the ruling, it could however, damage innovation. He also added that the regulation would give cheer to repressive regimes.
He went on to warn that “as we regulate the internet, I think we’re not going to see the kind of innovation we’ve seen”.
Source: BBC News