12,000 people already asking to be forgotten on Google

European court rules that people can request for info to be removed, but only if it is incorrect

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 31, 2014
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(Updated with response from Google)

It's a popular thing to say now that this generation, unlike any one before it, will have all of its mistakes recorded and preserved. Whatever you do will come back to haunt you later on in life. It's creepy and frightening, but probably true.

Or maybe it won't. At least not if the people have anything to say about it.

Only a day after Google put up a webform allowing people to request to have their data removed in Europe, the response has been overwhelming: the company received 12,000 requests on the first day alone, a Google spokesperson has confirmed to VatorNews.

The form asks for the users name, e-mail address, the links that the person wants removed, a legal document verifying the person's identity and an explaination of how the URL is "irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate."

When we asked Google out the timetable for actually removing the data in question, a spokesperon directed us to the FAQ, which states that it "may take some time because we have already received many such requests."

The form was put up after a recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union which "found that certain users can ask search engines to remove results for queries that include their name where those results are inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed." (Emphasis Google's)

The case, which was brought before a Spanish court all the way back in 2010, involved a man whose house had been foreclosed on. A notice for auction of the house appeared in a newspaper, and though the man had since paid his debt, the foreclosure notice still appeared in Google search results when the man’s name was typed.

The Spanish Data Protection Authority sued Google on the man’s behalf to have the post removed, with the big issue being the so-called “right to be forgotten,” or right people to block search results that would expose information that they would otherwise want kept private.

And, according to the court, that right does exist, but not in every case.

"The Court observes in this regard that, whilst it is true that the data subject’s rights also override, as a general rule, that interest of internet users, this balance may however depend, in specific cases, on the nature of the information in question and its sensitivity for the data subject’s private life and on the interest of the public in having that information, an interest which may vary, in particular, according to the role played by the data subject in public life."

In other words, you have to prove that the information in question is either wrong or irrelevant. Just because you don't want something on the Internet doesn't mean that its going to come down any time soon.

But tell that to the 12,000 people, and counting, who are already trying to do just that.

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