People across Europe can now ask Google to remove their personal details from its search results after new legislation was introduced giving internet users the “right to be forgotten” online.
Those seeking the removal of certain information must first complete and submit a form to a Google panel which then decides whether the data is “irrelevant” enough to be erased.
A ‘case by case’ approach
In a statement, the company said it planned to approach each case carefully and would look to balance the individual’s privacy rights with the rights of the public to freely access and distribute information on the internet. It will also consider any information relating to the applicant regarding criminal convictions, professional malpractice and financial scams while formulating its decisions.
While it is being forced to comply with the ruling, which was agreed at the end of May, Google has expressed scepticism over the long-term impact of the changes. In an interview with ft.com, the firm’s CEO, Larry Page, suggested that innovation could suffer as a result.
‘Everyday people’ to be given priority
Mr Page went on to say that any celebrities and politicians hoping to have embarrassing information removed via the new system may be left disappointed as he feels that “everyday people” should be the company’s priority.
The firm is also said to be concerned about the system being used improperly and is asking applicants to support their requests with photographic proof of identity. A spokesperson explained in a statement: “Google often receives fraudulent removal requests from people impersonating others, trying to harm competitors, or improperly seeking to suppress legal information. To prevent this kind of abuse, we need to verify identity.”
According to bbc.co.uk, the search giant confirmed that it would begin removing information at some point in June and that all decisions would be made by human teams, not algorithms like those used by the majority of Google’s other services.