Although Google has vocally expressed its opposition to a new European law that requires them to remove any searchable link upon user request, the search engine giant is currently working hard to comply with the controversial ruling. According to execs, Google is currently struggling to address more than 70,000 “right to be forgotten” requests.
According to CNET, the European Union Court of Justice ruled in May that internet users must have the right to ask search engine companies to remove links that might infringe upon their personal and private lives. Nicknamed “the right to be forgotten,” the new controversial provision allows people to ask search engines to remove any link they find imposing on their privacy. This could be almost anything, from a news article regarding a previous criminal case of a person, to someone’s old website profile — posts that could potentially reveal past and present details about their personal lives.
David Drummond, Google’s chief legal officer, reminded readers of The Guardian that although Google complies with the EU ruling, the search engine company maintains their opposition to the “right to be forgotten” law, describing the decision as a “disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general.”
Drummond revealed some examples of the take-down requests they have been receiving over the past few days. Unsurprisingly, a few requests came from shady and controversial politicians who are eager to have a few posts about themselves removed due to their critical nature. According to Drummond, a few celebrities have sent their requests as well, asking Google to remove links to bad movie or music reviews. Most disturbingly, a significant number of violent criminals have sent their requests, asking Google to purge news articles referring to their heinous crimes.
Google employs rigorous methods to allow or disallow the removal of links. A few factors are involved in the decision-making of removing links. Google checks the link and determines if it refers to a public figure or celebrity. They also determine if the link comes from a reputable news agency or institution and if the information is recent or not. The nature of the link and if any government information involved are also a few factors Google consider when they review a request. In the end, Drummond admits that despite the factors Google use in the removal of links, the judgments are always bound to “be difficult and debatable.”
Google has had massive influence in political decisions during the past years. Only last year, Google was instrumental in the resistance against SOPA, a controversial anti-piracy bill introduced by Texas Republican congressman Lamar Smith.
[Image from Garik Asplund via Flickr]