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Thousands ask Google to remove search links

Posting in Technology

Google now has a site up and running that allows Europeans to assert their "right to be forgotten."

Wait. Right to what?

Last month, the European Union's highest court ruled that Europeans have the "right to be forgotten" online. That essentially means that Europeans can request that Google (and other search engines) remove links that show up in search results associated with the person's name. That doesn't mean a story is deleted, just the link that shows up in search results.

Now Google is taking its first steps to allow people to request the removal of links.

The floodgates are officially open

How many people really care to remove links that come up when they Google themselves? A lot, apparently. On the first day the site went live, 12,000 people requested that Google remove links. As of this morning, Google had received 20,000 individual requests to remove links, since the ruling on May 13, U.K. tech site V3 confirmed.

Who can be forgotten?

But while requests can be made, Google says its still working to "finalize our implementation of removal requests" and decide which requests fall under the "right to be forgotten" and which the public has the right to know.

Leaving this decision, about which requests to delete and which to keep, to a private body is where some feel the E.U. made the wrong decision. As Jodie Ginsberg of the Index on Censorship says on CNN:

While it is clearly understandable that individuals should want to be able to control their online presence, the court's ruling fails to offer sufficient checks and balances to ensure that a desire to alter search requests so that they reflect a more "accurate" profile does not simply become a mechanism for censorship and whitewashing of history.

Google set up an advisory panel of "privacy experts, regulators, academics and company executives" to help the company determine how to move forward.

Image: Google screenshot

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— By on June 2, 2014, 8:10 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure