12,000 Europeans ask Google to forget them

Filed Under: Featured, Google, Law & order, Privacy

EU eraser image courtesy of ShutterstockOn the first day that Google unenthusiastically provided a form to allow Europeans to ask that their pasts be e-forgotten, 12,000 made the request, according to Agence-France Presse.

The requests were submitted on Friday, after Google set up a form to allow Europeans to request that results about them be removed from internet searches.

Google was forced into providing the form after the European Union's Court of Justice earlier in May ruled (PDF) that under existing EU data protection laws, search engine operators must be held responsible for processing personal data that appear on web pages published by third parties, so if the subject of a search doesn't want said data to pop up, he or she has the right to ask that they be taken down.

Is that all the e-forget-me requesters have to do? Are their electronic selves now going to go up in a puff of e-smoke?

Heck, no.

Google's not telling us how long it might take for a request to be approved or processed.

It says it will assess each request on its merits, looking for a balance between an individual's right to privacy with the public's interest in accessing data about them.

People whose pasts include nefarious escapades in particular might find it tougher to get returns taken down, given what Google says is a need to continue displaying information related to:

financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or public conduct of government officials

Google is also requiring petitioners to send along proof of identity in its efforts to keep imposters or others from inserting a monkey wrench into the workings of business competitors or legal actions.

The web form, which Google has said is just a placeholder until it gets the proper procedures up and running, asks for links to the outdated information that a requester wants to see go away, plus an explanation of why the data should be removed.

Will the numbers of petitioners rise? Or is it just a pent-up demand of people wanting to blip their e-existence?

Image of EU eraser courtesy of Shutterstock.

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8 Responses to 12,000 Europeans ask Google to forget them

  1. "The web form, which Google has said is just a placeholder until it gets the proper procedures up and running"

    Just hope that it's properly secured if you are putting your "proof of identity" into it.

    Are we happy that the NSA do not have a direct feed in/out of this "placeholder"? ( http://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2014/06/02/nsa-facial-recognition-program-scours-web-for-images-to-identify-suspects/ )

    • Tony · 119 days ago

      Surely the fact that they are requesting a "a legible copy of a document that verifies your identity" panders to Google's need to gather data about us. Also is there not a Data Protection issue if I scan my Driving Licence and 'give' it to Google?

      And why should I need a justify my reasons why I want to be removed - can I just put "Because I don't want to be searched" - it's 'valid' enough for me!

      • Serpico · 118 days ago

        Tony, I'm not saying your point is wrong but I think in this day and age, data collection is going to become next to impossible to avoid and this is largely going to be because the vast majority of the people either dont care or are too naive when it comes to privacy issues.

        • Tony · 117 days ago

          Data collection is one thing, collection of Personally identifiable information is another

  2. Sammie · 119 days ago

    It was not surprising to see request page where Google mandates that each request to be accompanied by a valid ID. Also on the same page, under privacy policy, it states that "We use the information we collect from all of our services to provide, maintain, protect and improve them, to develop new ones, and to protect Google and our users. We also use this information to offer you tailored content – like giving you more relevant search results and ads." Sounds like one may end up giving more accurate information to Google to have some inaccurate information removed. I wonder if its even worth it.

  3. teejuu · 119 days ago

    Surely the fact that they are requesting a "a legible copy of a document that verifies your identity" panders to Google's need to gather data about us. Also is there not a Data Protection issue if I scan my Driving Licence and 'give' it to Google?

    And why should I need a justify my reasons why I want to be removed - can I just put "Because I don't want to be searched" - it's 'valid' enough for me!

  4. 12,000 in a day.

    I think this is the crucial issue here - this is going to be quite a resource demand for google. I don't see how anything other than a human employee can make all those decisions.

    Perhaps a few hundreds of thousands off the however many billion dollars profit they make in the coming year.

  5. Half the people asking to be removed are people with criminal convictions but Google says these are exempted.
    Is that right?
    And giving this power to a private company?
    Sounds pretty dodgy to me.
    Also what's the difference between an online search and a physical thing like a book or a newspaper?
    Seems weird.
    Right to privacy and right to freedom of expression clashing?
    I don't think the lawyers understand this subject yet.

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About the author

I've been writing about technology, careers, science and health since 1995. I rose to the lofty heights of Executive Editor for eWEEK, popped out with the 2008 crash, joined the freelancer economy, and am still writing for my beloved peeps at places like Sophos's Naked Security, CIO Mag, ComputerWorld, PC Mag, IT Expert Voice, Software Quality Connection, Time, and the US and British editions of HP's Input/Output. I respond to cash and spicy sites, so don't be shy.