The Internet never forgets. But the Internet's largest search engine Google soon might, after a European privacy court ruled that citizens of particular European countries have a "right to be forgotten" from search results.
In response to the ruling, CNET reports that Google has created an online form by which users can request that links be removed from search listings.
How does the form work, and who can now invoke this new online right?
Invoking the 'Right to Be Forgotten'
With the online form created by Google, users can now request that search results which are "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed" be removed from search results.
Users fill out the form, including their name, contact info, the URL of the disputed search result and the reason why they think the result should be removed. Google also asks for documents that will verify the ID of the person making the request.
Each request will be evaluated individually -- a process which the form promises will begin "as soon as possible."
Does This Apply to Americans Too?
Unfortunately for Americans looking to clear up some unwanted Google results, for now the new "right to be forgotten" policy only applies to citizens of the 28 European Union countries as well as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Moreover, according to Search Engine Land, the results will only be removed from European country-specific versions of Google. Users in countries where results are blocked will still be able to use the American version of Google to view any removed results.
Comparing the filtered European results with the unfiltered American Google results will be made easier thanks to a prominent disclosure notice that will appear at the bottom of searches where search results have been removed. Google may also notify the publishers of websites whose results have been removed.
Google's form does note that this is an "initial effort." But Americans waiting for a similar "right to be forgotten" to be applied to domestic search results may not want to hold their breath.
- How far will EU citizens' 'right to be forgotten' extend? (Reuters)
- Facebook, Google Privacy Changes Announced (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Can You Fix Embarrassing Google Search Results? (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Reset the Net: Keeping Eyes Off Your Online Activity (FindLaw's Technologist)