Google Receives Over 41,000 Requests for Removal


In what has become a landmark case in the fight for increased Internet privacy, Google has been told to take requests from people living in European States and remove them from the Internet search engine giant’s database. As a result, they have already received over 41,000 appeals. On the very first day, Friday May 31, over 12,000 people applied to have their information stored on certain public sites permanently taken down.

Originally Google said that each request would be assessed individually to measure whether it met the European court ruling’s criteria. The company said that under the new court ruling they reserve the authority to veto any appeals the panel finds in which the public’s right to information outweighs a complainant’s privacy rights. But now a special panel will be appointed to examine the requests according to a member of an Internet privacy watchdog organization, the “Article 29 group.” The special task force was approved at a meeting on June 4, 2014 in Brussels.

Google were taken aback when the decision was laid down on May 12 and sent out a message on Friday May 31 to express how they felt. CEO Larry Page said in remarks published by the Financial Times Friday that he wished Google had been more active in the discussion in Europe. Page also said that the company’s Internet privacy policy is evolving to become more European and to think of issues in their regional contexts.

Interestingly, if one were to Google a person from the list in America, or other areas around the world excluding the affected European countries, the user and the pages they requested to be removed would still be available for viewing. As the ruling only has jurisdiction over European countries for these initial 41,000 received appeals and any subsequent appeals.

In a measure of good faith, Google is extending the “right to be forgotten” to four other countries commonly associate with the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, even though the court ruling only applied to the 28 countries officially in the European Union. More than 500 million people live in the region affected by the situation. Almost all of them use Google, with it thought that over 90 percent use it as their primary search engine. The United States based Internet giant declined to evaluate the length of time needed to take down the links, citing issues such as the clarity of requests affecting the timetable.

Negative Google expression used to be an outlying opinion, but now it is becoming more mainstream and popular. The California search engine has really tried to put a premium on keeping a positive image. But the company has become so big that many believe it will be very challenging to continue championing their “Don’t Be Evil” tagline, which has been part of their message since its early days.

After 12,000 requests on the first day and now over 41,000 requests for removal after just five days, Google could have to devote a larger amount of resources to monitoring and assessing these requests. As well as lobbying to fight more cases like this one in other regions if they continue to receive requests at this rate. Even if these initial numbers are the peak, and not a consistent event, the decision and the subsequent changes it will result in, could have substantial repercussions to Google’s image and operations for years to come.

By Taylor Rash

NY Daily News
PC World

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