Online-reputation businesses. Have you ever heard of them? If you haven’t, be prepared. While Google’s new Google Domains project will certainly help businesses grow their presence online, Google’s latest work consists of creating new businesses that will help remove user data from the World Wide Web.
We reported last month that an EU court ruling required Google to delete user data on the Web that could paint consumers in a negative light. In other words, if users want to be forgotten, they’ve that right. Google received 12,000 initial removal requests, but that number has grown to over 41,000 since Google released its official removal request form.
The search engine giant reported today that it’s started to honor the link removal requests in line with the EU court’s ruling: “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,” said a Google spokesperson. Of the first removal requests granted was that of Mario Costeja Gonzalez, who had a public debt declared against him in a 1998 newspaper. Gonzalez filed a complaint against Google back in 2010, and it was his complaint that started what led to the EU court’s ruling last month.
At the same time however, it’s been said that Google’s not following the EU court’s ruling in its entirety: while the Mountain View Company is removing the requested information from its European Google.com site, the company’s still got the information published on its UK or US Google.com sites, according to one privacy regulator.
While EU citizens have received some measure of success in the “right-to-be-forgotten” movement, they’re not the only ones. Google has given birth to an online reputation business movement, leading to the rise of online reputation businesses across the Web who want to help EU citizens get certain detrimental information removed from not only Google, but also Microsoft and Yahoo, who’ve also been giving fair warning about honoring link removal requests. One such company is called Reputation VIP in France is now using pre-determined responses to send to Google on behalf of French citizens to simplify the link removal request and get their requests honored faster with the search engine giant. French Reputation VIP CEO Bertrand Girin is currently not forcing consumers to pay for the service, but he believes that the pay model is the best way to get excellent profit while providing a help service for customers: “There are going to be people who are ready to pay to have the best chance of success.”
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And so, there you’ve it: the EU hands down a ruling, Google complies, and online companies seek to benefit. It seems as if every time a court bangs the gavel, some online company’ll stand in line to collect a few dollars. Maybe having the right to be forgotten brings along the right to have people steal even more of our hard-earned cash.