Google: "we need more time to 'forget' people"

Google has said in a public statement that it could take weeks before they will be able to properly comply with 'right to be forgotten' requests.

After the top European court's ruling last Tuesday, any individual living in the EU can ask Google to remove results linking to pages containing personal details from their search results. Since then, Google has reportedly been flooded with such requests from people eager to effectively vanish from the public internet.

However, the volume of requests has reputedly been so great that the company is now having to actively devise a new method of dealing with them in order to satisfy the public. Today, the search giant warned that a system that complies fully with the EU's ruling "could take several weeks" to build and implement. By that time it looks likely that a huge backlog of 'right to be forgotten' requests will have built up in the company's pigeon holes. Potentially, it could take months before people actually see links to personal details of theirs removed from Google's search results.

The issue arises due to the sheer scale of Google's internet indexing. Each person may have data of theirs publicly viewable on dozens of websites and it is now Google's responsibility to find and remove all of these links. The issue is complicated as Google must also decide whether they should refuse a request as 'being in the public interest' and of the varying languages that data may be found in.

The EU's ruling has drawn great controversy over the past week as people take varying stances as to whether this will turn out to be good or bad for the internet. There are also concerns that it could enable criminals to erase dodgy records of themselves online before investigators or detectives can find them. This could inhibit serious criminal investigations into dangerous or wanted people.

Regardless of what happens next in the fight over whether the EU's ruling was just or not, one thing is definite: Submit a 'right to be forgotten' request to Google now and you may not see any action for the foreseeable future.

Source: Japan Today | Image via CBC News

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17 Comments

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Idea: Could Google just censor this information in countries that have such laws, but still make it available to the rest of us? Seems like their laws shouldn't have any power over what goes on in other countries.

paulheu said,
If this had been Microsoft they would have had an injunction and huge fine by now.

What the Court established is principle that applies to all search engines, not just Google. We will see it expanding to others as well.

I don't think this ruling is fair to Google. The owners of the individual sites serving the information should be responsible for taking this info down, instead. If that discourse fails, with the presentation of proof those single results should then be removed from search indexes.

Anyway, I bet most of these requests are for sites that the individuals signed up for in the first place, just like we signed up for Neowin. It isn't fair to expect Google to bear the burden of removing information the people in question put up in the first place. I hope I'm misinformed on the situation because the way I understood this is asinine.

Some of the things that have been removed are utterly rediculous. A paedophile got a news article on him being convicted removed, a politician got a news story on him being bad in office removed, a murderer got a news site about how he killed all his family removed...

Doesn't matter. in with those that abuse the right to be forgotten requests will be legitimate folks just concerned over their privacy

Take the bad with the good. doesn't help if they are planning on making this a totally automated process but that's on Google to figure out

I mean after all, they have NO issue at all figuring out how to utilize the vast data collection stores they have amassed over the years in targeting individuals and children

So this should really be a piece of cake to figure out

n_K said,
Some of the things that have been removed are utterly rediculous. A paedophile got a news article on him being convicted removed, a politician got a news story on him being bad in office removed, a murderer got a news site about how he killed all his family removed...

Only requests so far. Nothing has been removed.

Most of those are probably in the public interest and won't be removed.

dingl_ said,

I mean after all, they have NO issue at all figuring out how to utilize the vast data collection stores they have amassed over the years in targeting individuals and children

If we're talking about targeted advertising, what makes you think they had no issues? They've invested huge amounts of money into this area and their whole business model is based around it, of course it wasn't easy O.O If it was you'd see a million other companies as successful as Google