Google Launches Right to be forgotten Request Form
Today, Friday May 30, the European Court of Justice’s right to be forgotten takes effect. In readiness of this Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has launched a request form to be filled by Europeans to ask for removal of their personal data from online search results. Also the California-based search engine company has revealed plans to create a committee of independent experts to deal with any rising privacy concerns.
On May 13, the EU’s highest court ruled that a person has the right to compel Google, other search engines or any other data mining firm, to erase links to web pages containing damaging information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” about him from appearing in search results.
Right to be Forgotten Request Form
In complying with the court order on right to be forgotten and responding to its ramifications, Google has said it would weigh up individual request based on privacy rights and the public’s right to know and distribute information.
Those who want information removed from the search engine’s index would have to fill the available request form. But filling this form does not guarantee deletion of the information in question. The company will only delete information that they have proven is outdated and there’s no public interest in the information. This is has been specified on the form.
Some of the information Google digs into when determining whether to implement the request or not includes professional malpractice, financial scams, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.
Freedom of Expression versus Right to Privacy
While the right to be forgotten is well taken in Europe, there has been a loud outcry in the U.S. following the ruling. This is as a clash of cultures, where Europeans value the right to privacy but Americans consider freedom of expression as paramount.
Privacy issues have been raised severally regarding Google. In an interview aired in the CNBC documentary dubbed “Inside the Mind of Google”, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt says, “… if you do something you don’t want anyone to know about, maybe you should not be doing it in the first place.”
Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder, has excoriated the ruling saying it rounds down to internet censorship. He even tweeted:
“When will a European court demand that Wikipedia censor an article with truthful information because an individual doesn’t like it?”
Google’s CEO, Larry Page, has promised to implement the right to be forgotten, but he warns that this ruling may set precedence for retrogressive governments to do bad things. He also adds that this risks hurting innovation. He however promised that his company would try to be “more European”, referring to the high privacy standards in Europe.
“As we regulate the internet, I think we’re not going to see the kind of innovation we’ve seen” – Google CEO Larry Page
There are many reasons why people would want Google to forget them. Some of the cases you wouldn’t want Google to let people know include embarrassing images from the past, the crimes you committed in the past, acts of domestic violence and many more. By removing this information from search engine, the right to be forgotten negates the very essence of internet as a background check search tool.