We reported on GeekSided not long ago about a landmark ruling in an EU court that mandated Google to honor some requests by EU citizens to have search results removed from certain search queries about them.
Now, after Google published a form for takedown requests, they have confirmed through the AFP that they are sorting through over 12,000 such requests. Google will evaluate each one according to the standards given by the court.
The court case was brought by a Spanish man who was dismayed to find rather old newspaper articles regarding long since paid debts popping up when searching for his name. Since they would give any searcher a potentially false or outdated impression of him, he sued to get them removed. The court sided with him, saying Google’s search index amounted to a data profile, making them liable for the way people might be misconstrued due to that data.
In cases where the results are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed,” the EU court instructs that Google must work with the individual to remove the results. This is balanced against the public interest in knowing the information. The original website needs not change a thing; it’s the presentation of search results based on a person’s identity, not publishing in general, being dealt with here.
More details on the ruling are available in our original piece on the matter.
The influx of requests is probably going to be a temporary high watermark, but still poses a logistical challenge to Google. If they cannot agree with the complainant, the case goes to court. As this only applies to citizens of EU member countries, it will be interesting to see how many of these requests come from outside these regions, despite the form’s design against that very issue.
Either way, there is clearly a strong worldwide interest in being forgotten.
Featured image by opensource.com (Flickr)