Google doesn't like forgetting things, but this time it has no choice: The search giant has started compliance with a ruling from the European Court of Justice that gives Google users a so-called "right to be forgotten" on the service.
"In a case pitting privacy campaigners against Google, a top EU court says Internet firms can be made to remove irrelevant or excessive personal data from search engine results." (Via Euronews)
From the European court's ruling: "Links to web pages containing that information must be removed from that list of results, unless there are particular reasons, such as the role played by the data subject in public life, justifying a preponderant interest of the public in having access to the information."
An automatic form is now online to submit requests for removal from Google's indexing. Applicants will need a list of all URLs they want deleted and a photo ID.
Google says: "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. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there's a public interest in the information."
So, no, Google's not happy about cutting data out of its memory banks.
At the Code Conference this week, Google co-founder Sergey Brin admitted he thought the concept was a bad idea, saying, "I wish we could just forget the ruling." (Via Re/code)
In an interview with the Financial Times, Google's other co-founder, Larry Page, worried the right to be forgotten would set a bad censorship precedent.
"It will be used by other governments that aren't as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things. Other people are going to pile on, probably … for reasons most Europeans would find negative."
As for a right to be forgotten coming to the U.S., Google's lawyers say forget it. They told CNET trying to push such a measure through stateside would be "absurd."
For those EU links Google is legally obligated to forget, it plans to add a disclosure like those it already uses to mark removals under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Search Engine Land explains: "If someone asks for a URL to be removed from the listings for their name, and that's approved, the URL will go away — but anyone who looks at the bottom of the result will know that they must have asked for something to be removed."
And anyone visiting from anywhere outside the EU will still be able to see Google's unaltered results. Google says it will start processing removal requests once it has its internal processes in place.