Google plans to introduce notices to point out where information has been redacted due to European privacy rules
Google could add special alerts to indicate that some of its search results have been redacted due to the ‘Right to be Forgotten’, a month after the controversial EU court decision.
In May, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled that search engine operators are responsible for links to web pages that contain personal information, and in certain situations, could be requested to delete such links.
Short term memory
The ‘Right to be Forgotten’ was originally proposed in 2012 as part of the Data Protection Regulation, a document which sets out measures for protection of personally identifiable information in the EU.
The implementation of this principle caused a lot of confusion, before a court ruling established that European citizens should be able to edit the content which shows up when someone searches for their name, in cases when such content is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”.
In the wake of the decision, Google introduced an online form for people who want to remove search results about themselves and received 12,000 requests in the first day alone. Unsurprisingly, most of these were related to stories about fraud, arrests or convictions for serious offences.
According to the Guardian, some of the first applicants included a politician with a shady past, a convicted paedophile and a man who once attempted to murder his family.
What makes the Right to be Forgotten particularly complicated is the responsibility of the search engine to decide whether each piece of content satisfies the criteria for removal.
To make the issue more obvious, Google is thinking about introducing notices at the bottom of the page wherever it has removed links due to EU privacy rules. The company already displays information related to Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns in a similar manner.
Google is also planning to include information on the Right to be Forgotten requests to its Transparency Report, published every six months. At the moment, the report features information on copyright takedowns, websites censured by various governments, and the requests for user information.
Even though the ECJ ruling was originally seen as a victory for privacy campaigners, some critics, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, accused EU of paving the way towards Internet censorship while ignoring the real privacy issues.
It should be remembered that even if the person is successful in removing a link in Google’s search results, it does not actually remove the original page from the Internet.
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