Google, along with Yahoo and Bing, were told recently that they must honor requests from EU citizens to have personal information located at certain URLs or weblinks removed from company search engines if individuals so desire. While Google’s own CEO Larry Page has said that the EU Court’s ruling is bad for other countries and will only lead to more secrecy when an employer seeks to know whether or not an employee has a criminal record, is a former mercenary, or whether or not a politician should be distrusted because of his moral failure, and so on. Page has gone on record as saying that, while the decision may work for some countries and help, it will be a hindrance in other countries and may even be used for malevolence purposes: “It will be used by other governments to that aren’t as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things. Other people are going to pile on, probably…for reasons most Europeans would find negative,” Page said in a Financial Times interview.
In compliance with the EU Court’s ruling, Google created and published a “right to forget” request form yesterday that mandates a photo ID, your full name (or the name of the person you’re filing a link removal request for), and legal document that verifies your identity in order to process your form successfully. The form requests that you supply not only the links you want removed, but also why the link pertains to you specifically and what about it is outdated, irrelevant, or libelous.
This morning, Google woke up to 12,000 link removal requests, a large number for the first day that the link request form has been public on the World Wide Web. Google won’t get these link removal requests processed overnight, so the process could require some significant time. While the requests pertain to information published over the Web, human representatives from the search engine giant will tackle each request in turn.
Google’s provided some early stats about the “right to forget” requests: 4 out of every 10 requests come from German citizens while Spanish and British citizens are also filling out link removal requests in high numbers. The majority of requests so far pertain to the removal of criminal records and past convictions from public knowledge. The very first requests were made by an actor who had an affair with a teenager, a former child pornographer, an unethical politician, and a physician who doesn’t want negative reviews published so as to impact his financial gain.
Google will allow individuals to make link removal requests by proxy through the work of another individual. In such cases, proxy persons will need to supply information about themselves and the person on whose behalf they’re making the request. While Germany, Britain, and Spain have seen their share of link removal requests, Google’s form will make its way to other countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, and Switzerland. Google’s current form is designed for 32 countries.