Tuesday 16 January 2018

Google bows to EU ruling and sets up search deletion form

Google's Dublin HQ
Google's Dublin HQ
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Google has set up a new web form to allow people to request the deletion of search results relating to their names.

The internet giant has introduced the web form after the European Court of Justice said people now have the "right to be forgotten" from internet searches. The move is expected to see thousands of Irish business executives move to strike unflattering references to themselves and their business activities from the public gaze.

According to Google, the majority of requests received so far relate to criminal behaviour, with 31pc linked to reports of fraudulence and scams.

However, Google's web form makes it clear that information adjudged to be in the "public interest" may be protected from requests for deletion. "When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there's a public interest in the information," says the web form.

"For example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials."

Critics of the decision have voiced concern over nominating Google as a new authority to decide what may or may not remain searchable in the "public interest".

If the search giant declines a deletion request on "public interest" grounds, individuals requesting deletion of the search results may appeal to Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes, who will make a further ruling on the "public interest" status of the material. A final right of appeal will then be possible to the Irish courts.

The European Court ruling does not apply to the original material on websites, which may remain published. It only applies to search results.

To date, 40pc of the applications received have been from Germany, with 14pc from Spain, 13pc from Britain, and smaller numbers from Italy and France. Google Ireland has not given specifics of requests received by it to date.

Irish Independent

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