Search engine giant Google has created a formal link removal process for consumers in the European Union (EU) who would like to utilize the newly created “right to be forgotten." At the same time as Google is complying with the new rules, CEO Larry Page said that they could greatly affect start-ups and make it harder for small businesses to grow like Google.
The European Court of Justice ruled earlier this month that search engines like Google can be forced to take down links to content that is incorrect, irrelevant, or no longer relevant. Many people responded negatively to the ruling, stating that content removal should not be Google's job but rather the job of the sites who publish the content. Not only does removing links not take the content offline, it simply makes Google's job more difficult while giving people a way to erase parts of their history from the Internet.
Compliance With Rules
In accordance with the new E.U. rules, Google is accepting requests from people who would like to have links removed from the search engine. With a simple Web form, people can make requests to have certain links removed. However, they must do so by providing their names, e-mail addresses, as well as explain how the linked pages are related to them and why the search results are "irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate."
Google does have a say in the matter and is able to refuse certain requests, but that does not prevent consumers from pursuing action against Google in a different way. The court has ruled that if Google refuses a request, people can reach out to the applicable data protection authorities. The search engine has requested that people provide some explanation as to why the links should be removed and it said that any decision will be carefully considered.
Immediately after the E.U. handed down its ruling, Google's legal team announced that they were still trying to figure out how the ruling would actually affect the search engine. With a better grasp of what the right to be forgotten is, Page has said the court may have gotten it wrong. In an interview with the Financial Times, Page said that he wished Google had been given the chance to be truly involved in the European debate over user privacy.
Even though the E.U. may have good intentions and is trying to protect user privacy with the ruling, Page assumes that in the future, people will abuse the the right. Additionally, the burden that the right to be forgotten puts on small businesses may be too significant for them to handle.
“We’re a big company and we can respond to these kind of concerns and spend money on them and deal with them, it’s not a problem for us,” said Page. “But as a whole, as we regulate the Internet, I think we’re not going to see the kind of innovation we’ve seen.”
Some analysts are already saying that the ruling could end up being reversed, but for the time being, Google will have to manually consider and respond to thousands of link removal requests.