The world’s largest internet search engine, Google, has launched a service for European citizens to request that links to what they believe is objectionable material involving them be removed from search results.
People can fill in a online form detailing why they think a link is “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate”.
It is the first step by Google to comply with the EU Court of Justice’s “right to be forgotten” ruling which covers more than 500 million people.
That ruling creates technical challenges as well as potential extra costs for companies like Google.
The company said it has convened a committee of senior Google executives and independent experts to try and craft a long-term approach to dealing with what is expected to be a barrage of requests.
The Google webform reads: “In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information.”
Public interest would include such things as information about professional malpractice, criminal convictions and the public conduct of government officials.
Google said that it will work with data protection authorities and others as it implements the ruling, but it is not clear when it will begin to actually remove any links. In the webform, Google says it is “working to finalise our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible”.
Yahoo, which also operates a search engine in Europe, has previously said it’s “carefully reviewing” this to assess the impact for its business and users.
Microsoft, which has the Bing search engine, had previously declined to comment on the ruling.
Google processes more than 90 percent of all internet searches in Europe.