Google moved overnight to put up an online form that will allow European citizens to request that links to obsolete information be taken down – its first response to the ruling by Europe's top court on "the right to be forgotten".
The ruling on 13 May upheld a 1995 European law ondata protection and ordered Google to remove links to a 1998 newspaper article about the repossession of a Spanish man's home.
After putting up the online form in the early hours of Friday, Google received 12 000 requests across Europe, sometimes averaging 20 per minute, by late in the day, the company said.That puts Google and other Internet companies in the position of having to interpret the court's broad criteria for information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" as well as developing criteria for distinguishing public figures from private individuals.
"The court's ruling requires Google to make difficult judgements about an individual's right to be forgotten and the public's right to know," a Google spokesman said.
Digital rights campaigners say the EU authorities need to agree on a common approach to guide the search engine companies.Next week representatives from the EU's 28 data protection authorities are due to discuss the implications of the ruling at a two-day meeting.
"Companies should not be tasked with balancing fundamental rights or making decisions on the appropriateness, lawfulness, or relevance of information they did not publish," said Raegan MacDonald, European policy manager at Access, a digital rights organisation.
Brussels, 2 Jun 2014
Definitely a discussion to follow in terms of privacy vs. freedom of information. What are your thoughts on this?