A Sisyphean Task Begins As 'Forget' Requests Roll Into Google
Google opened an online form this week allowing European users to request that information about their lives be deleted from the search engine.
In the first 24 hours, more than 12,000 people asked to be "forgotten."
The company was responding to a European Court of Justice ruling in May that said citizens have the right to request certain information be removed, if, for instance, the information is inaccurate or outdated.
At one point on Friday, Google was getting more than 20 requests a minute, the Associated Press reports.
"In implementing this decision," explains Google on the form,
"we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public's right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there's a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials."
The wording suggests that Google is pushing back against the judgement, citing the importance of the public's interest in information, writes Natasha Lomas of TechCrunch.com. It also appears the process will be unwieldy and expensive for Google, "since, by nature, the process requires a case-by-case approach and can't be automated," Lomas writes.
Deutche Welle points out that any information "forgotten" by Google won't be removed from the Internet — just from Google search results.
The removal will also skew search results between Europe and the rest of the world, AP writes. "That means Googling the same person in the United States and dozens of other countries could look much different than it does from Europe."
The right to be forgotten applies in the EU's 28 countries, plus four more — Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — that Google chose to include. All together, more than 500 million people live in the area, AP says.
For those folks, "The form isn't exactly easy to find — it's tucked away on Google's legal page," says JP Mangalindan of Forbes.
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