Google will soon start removing links in line with 'right to be forgotten'

Last month, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that Google must amend its search results to remove listings deemed 'irrelevant' or outdated, in what has come to be widely known as the 'right to be forgotten' online. Just two days later, Google was already receiving requests for removals, and when it published an online form to simplify the process of handling those requests, the company was inundated with submissions, with over 12,000 being submitted within the first 24 hours alone. 

The rate of submissions has since decreased, with around 50,000 having been received so far. As The New York Times reports, Google will soon begin acting on those requests, with the first links being removed by the end of this month, according to its well-placed sources.

The company has reportedly begun to contact individuals to inform them that the removal process will begin soon. It is understood that that process will take a number of weeks before it becomes fully operational.

Any individual submitting a request must specify the links they would like removed, along with an explanation that must satisfy an internal review panel, who will determine whether or not the removal petition should be approved. For those requests that are given the go-ahead, Google will remove the relevant links from its search results across the 28 EU member states, along with Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 

However, any links that are removed in Europe will still be visible in Google search results elsewhere around the globe. 

Source: The New York Times | European Union flags image via Shutterstock

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9 Comments

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The real question is, if you're featured as a doodle on Google.com and you've invoked your right to be forgotten, how much havoc would it cause on the Internet in Europe for a day? And how long would this last after your death?

I imagine this would work based on IP rather than the Google domain you happen to be using. Still, this can be bypassed by proxy (ex.: Tor).

What Google needs to do, is when there's a removed link, add a link saying "Some results have been removed, click here to search again on Google.com"..

Thus bringing the whole farce full circle.

I think this was a good small step to addressing some of the challenges of the internet age but taking a nationalised approach to -when dealing with the internet - it is just reductive.

However, any links that are removed in Europe will still be visible in Google search results elsewhere around the globe.
Great! I suggested they do exactly that in a comment on an earlier article here.

So overall it won't be that big of a deal. Google could just hire a small team of people to work on these requests, and they will only screw up search results for the people in countries that have such laws.

The content is certainly still available from the source, however Google (and every other search engine) also maintains a cache of data that should be removed. In most cases if the source of the data returns a 404 (after complying with their own RTBF request), Google will remove the cached data, however the delay between those two events is unspecified. Also the case where the source of the content wishing to be removed is non-compliant, and Google therefore continues to maintain its own cache in violation of the RTBF rule.

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However, any links that are removed in Europe will still be visible in Google search results elsewhere around the globe.

Kind of makes the whole thing somewhat pointless doesn't it? Most of the world is still going to see your embarrassing photos and whatnot, never mind you can just use a different Google domain if you're looking for something that may have been hidden.