Google introduces webform to comply with the ‘right to be forgotten’

Stephen McCance May 30, 2014

Google introduced a new web form on Friday to ensure they comply with the new EU right to be forgotten. Here we summarise what this means and whether it is actually as big a deal for privacy of information as what it seems.

It was announced on Friday that Google has added a form to their support website specifically for European citizens to make requests for their personal data to be removed from search results.
This action by the search engine giant has come in response to a European Union court ruling earlier in the month that gives EU citizens the right ‘to be forgotten’. A response from Google has been on the cards since the ruling, as much of the publicity surrounding it was with regards to the visibility and availability of information online. Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, has stated that the company would comply with the ruling, but also expressed his concerns over the repercussions in the wider world, suggesting that countries that “aren’t as forward and progressive as Europe” could use the right to be forgotten to “do bad things”.
Using the new form, people will now be able to ask search engines, including Google, to remove search engine results that contain their personal data, including their name, where the information fits into certain categories, for example if it is inadequate, excessive or no longer relevant.
Although this may seem like a big nod towards privacy of information, Google will still be looking at each case on an individual basis and has not promised that requests will be granted. A spokesperson said that they would “attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information.” In a nutshell, the links appearing in search results will be assessed as to whether they contain any information that is judged to be in the public interests. If Google deem that it is, indeed, in the public interest for the information to be available through search, then links to the information in search results pages will not be removed.
The web form consists of a section for those affected to fill in the offending links and also give an explanation as to why they believe that they should be removed. Everyone filling in the form will also be required to provide a form of identification to help ascertain that they have the authority and the right to request the removal. To take a look at the Google web form for yourself, click here.

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