Sergey Brin, Google, Code Conference

Asa Mathat


Europe’s highest court on May 13 decided that its citizens could ask search engines to delete search results about themselves. Now Europe’s largest search engine, Google — which has been entirely displeased with the ruling — has set up a way for people to make such requests.

Google’s “right to be forgotten” form is here.

Removing a link in Google’s search results, it should be noted, does not actually remove the page from the Internet. The search giant is worried that the ability to do so could be abused, for instance, by people who did not like the way they were portrayed in news stories.

Google asks people to explain why a URL contains information that is “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.” It also asks for “a clear, readable copy of your valid driver’s license, national ID card, or other photo ID” to verify that impersonators aren’t using the form.

If a request seems valid, Google will remove the link from search results pages and post a notice that indicates the request was made, just as it does for copyright takedown requests.

Google CEO Larry Page told the Financial Times that he regretted having not gotten more involved in the public debate in Europe around the issue. “That’s one of the things we’ve taken from this, that we’re starting the process of really going and talking to people,” he said.

Other Google executives have been less generous in their comments about the right to be forgotten. “I wish we could just forget the ruling,” said Google co-founder Sergey Brin at our Code Conference this week. Previously, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt had commented, “You have a collision between a ‘right to be forgotten’ and a right to know,” he said. “From Google’s perspective, that’s a balance. Google believes, looking at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong.”

Google said it was establishing an international committee to evaluate larger questions around requests to “be forgotten,” which will only be accepted when they are submitted by Europeans. Outside members include Frank La Rue, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression; Peggy Valcke, Director, University of Leuven law school; Jose Luis Piñar, former Spanish DPA; Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia; and Luciano Floridi, information ethics philosopher at Oxford Internet Institute.

Even without a form, Google has already received thousands of requests to remove results over the past few weeks, said a company spokesperson.


This is ridiculous.   If a website has information that is irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate the person should take it up with the website that has posted the information to the web, since Google can't make the information disappear.


Absolutely agree w/mckoder on this one. How arrogant of Google to decide for INDIVIDUALS what "OTHERS" have a "right" to know about them, under the laughable auspices that if individuals were able to hide their own information, that, somehow, is wrong as everyone else has a "right" to know what I, or mckoder, or anyone else is doing on the net and/or Google.


This is where Europe has it in spades over the U.S. The people are very tenacious when it comes to individual freedoms where the internet is concerned and it's high time that we stop worrying about "net neutrality" and start worrying about why in the hell Google feels so strongly that they have a "right" to OUR search habits, regardless of whether or not those searches pertain to us specifically or in general terms.

Which is why I totally have severed my ties with Google. I don't use Chrome; I use only Bing for my searches. I stay away from Google's social-related sites such as Circles and such. I also have a plug in, if that's what it's called, that allows me to deny Google from anyway using my net habits for their own purposes, such as their Analytical division, their Circles division, etc. Screw 'em. As far as myself is concerned, I take my own responsibility when it comes to my own privacy. I mean, as it is now, if the authorities felt that they had to know what my search habits are, they can easily subpoena my computer and find out.

Of course, that is if they notice my degausser that surrounds my front door. That is if I in fact, actually have one. Maybe, maybe not, because that information is MY business, isn't?


 We need this for Americans too. Eric Schmidt once suggested that young people should change their name, upon reaching adulthood,  in order to disown youthful hijinks. A better idea is this forget-me form.


@mckoder America has an implied right to privacy from the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, not an expressed one.

This is the loophole that Technology Companies thrive upon: the Supreme Court agrees that some privacy exists, but it's largely up to the citizens to defend it, not the Government.  If people don't protect themselves, they release the information forever, and it's a perfect disclosure -- no such law is possible in the United States, and corporations will never give that up willingly.


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