Wasting no time, Google has already created a request form for residents of the European Union in light of the recent decision upholding the “right to be forgotten.”
In May, the EU’s highest court ruled that the search engine was required to delete links to 1998 legal notices about a Spanish attorney that appeared in a Spanish newspaper and announced the auction of his property to recover debts. Mario Costeja Gonzalez requested their removal, but Google declined. The lawyer sued, arguing that the proceedings had been resolved and were now irrelevant.
The European Court of Justice agreed and ruled that the data was “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive,” particularly as Gonzalez played no role in public life. Within days, the search engine was already fielding removal requests from other EU citizens.
In response, the company created a form found on the EU’s legal page. The form requires a requester (who must attach documentation for identity verification) to supply the URL that the individual wants removed, along with details about the search terms used to find it and an explanation of why the search result is “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.”
Google also announced that it intends to form a committee of privacy experts – composed of non-company employees like the head of Wikipedia and former data regulators from European countries – to help it handle the changes. “We’re trying now to be more European and think about it maybe more from a European context,” CEO Larry Page told the Financial Times. “A very significant amount of time is going to be spent in Europe talking.”
The company indicated it may add an alert at the bottom of search results pages where links have been removed upon request.
To read the ECJ’s decision, click here.
To see Google’s new form, click here.
Why it matters: The EU decision suggests that it may favor the privacy rights of the individual over the public’s need to know. Further decisions may provide a clarification.