Earlier this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that Google and other search engines must take requests from people for search results to be deleted. It’s up to the search engines to determine whether or not to comply with such requests. If Google, for example, feels there is a legitimate reason for a particular result to be removed, it can do so. If it doesn’t, it might have to go to court on a case-by-case basis when individuals are willing to fight it.
The Wall Street Journal is now reporting, citing Germany privacy officials, that Google will “create a mechanism for German users to request the removal of links to information about them from the company’s popular search engine within the next two weeks.”
In the past, Google has been very vocal about its opposition to removing legal content from search results. The company considers this a form of censorship. With this news, Google appears to be at least playing ball with the recent ruling, in giving users a new way to request that results are pulled. How often Google will actually comply remains to be seen.
As expected, more complaints are coming out quickly as a result of the ruling. The Journal reports that privacy regulators typically see about 100 requests to suppress search results each year, but had immediately received eight on the day after the ruling alone.
According to BBC News, Google has already received takedown requests from an ex-politician seeking re-election (regarding “behaviour in office”), a man convicted of possessing child abuse images (regarding pages about his conviction), and a doctor (regarding negative reviews from patients).
You can already see where the ruling could be a pretty big problem. On one hand, if Google were to delete such things, it could have a dangerous outcome because of the lack of information. On the other hand, it’s going to cost money for Google to battle such individuals in court, and there will clearly be a lot more of them than ever before thanks to the ruling.
Image via Google