For their next trick, Google will now make you disappear…
About a week ago, Google out of Europe created a request form regarding outdated, inaccurate or inappropriate search results to be removed by the “Right to be Forgotten.” More than 50 million people live in the area affected by Google’s potential purge, and so far Google has received over 41,000 requests to have content removed (and counting).Within the first 24 hours the site posted the form’s publication, over 12,000 requests were sent to Google seeking to remove personal content. Google supervisors estimated 7 requests per-minute since the form’s availability on the site. With numbers such as these, it seems everyone is for the request application, but some specialists believe this isn’t Google’s duty.
Secretary general of the Internet Service Provider’s Association, Nicholas Lansman, stated in an interview, “ISPA has consistently argued that companies are ill-placed to make such decisions which should be made by a competent authority such as the Information Commissioners Office and it’s European counterparts.” Meaning this removal should be laser-focused on the individual requests by government authority, not a company like Google.
This makes sense, due to the fact many of these requests (sent in primarily from Germany and the U.K) tend to be more personal and require an in-depth examination to approve request. Noting that there is a fine line between individual privacy and serving the public interest. For example, a man in Germany sent in a removal request to Google only a few hours after the form was available just so happened to also pop up on dozens of search engines after attempting to murder his entire family- no word if he ever managed to fulfill his proposal, but information like this may be best left for public viewing.
The idea behind the “Right to be Forgotten” began with the European Court of Justice reaching out to improve the reputations of the Europeans Union by petitioning Google and other search engines to remove potentially damaging links from search results. Other search sites like Yahoo have also began making small strides trying to find a balance between public domain and user privacy. But how do you know which is which? The subject is tricky and there is a large gray area that needs to be considered before completely stripping all requested names from the web.
Thankfully, Google is taking some identity precautions before granting all internet-escapees a right of passage. Along with a series of questions, a copy of your drivers licenses or other photo identification, you must select the country you would like the information deleted from followed by this statement, from Google’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ form:
“In implementing this decision, 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—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.”
However, if you are an American looking for a way to get rid of your online presence, you’ll be waiting quite some time. The Google headquarters of the United States show no signs of making a take-down option such as our neighbors across the pond, and even state on their site that anything you put on the web, belongs to the public.
Beyond the in-depth questionnaire and proof of identification, Google also wants to reiterate the fact that just because your information is removed from the search engine doesn’t necessarily mean it is erased from the internet. Meaning, in a nutshell, you can run but you can’t hide!