Google will try to comply with EU rules

Search engine outfit Google has agreed to attempt to comply with European “right to be forgotten” rules and will forget all about Europe.

A service through which European citizens can request that links to what they deem as objectionable material be taken off search results.

The world’s largest internet search engine, which processes more than 90 percent of all web searches in Europe, has made available a webform through which people can submit their requests, but stopped short of specifying when it would remove links that meet the criteria for being taken down.

Google has convened a committee of senior Google executives and independent experts to hatch out a long-term plan to dealing with what’s expected to be a barrage of requests from the region.

“In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information,” reads the webform that Google made available yesterday .

Google says in the form that when evaluating requests, it will consider whether the results include outdated information about a person, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information, such as information about professional malpractice, criminal convictions and the public conduct of government officials.

The form includes space for users to submit objectionable links and a box for the person to explain why the link is “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate”.

To make a request, a person must submit a digital copy of an official identification, such as a valid driver’s licence, and select from a drop-down menu of 32 European countries the appropriate country whose law applies to the request.

The decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union places Google in a tricky position as it strives to interpret the EU’s broad criteria for objectionable links, and to remove certain content from its search engine.

Failure to remove links that meet the EU’s broad criteria for take-down can result in fines and since the ruling, Google has received thousands of removal requests.

It is unclear when Google will begin to actually remove any links. In the webform, Google says it is “working to finalise our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and we will notify you when we start processing your request”.