World News – Your right to be forgotten on the Internet is almost here. Google will start to remove links to online content in Europe by the end of the month to comply with a recent landmark European court ruling intended to protect individuals’ privacy, according to sources with direct knowledge of the issue, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak on the matter.
This step follows a monthlong effort by Google to comply with the European Court of Justice’s decision, which requires all search providers operating in Europe to consider people’s requests to remove links that they say violate their online privacy.
Last month, Google created a rudimentary framework, including a new online form for making such requests.
Google has already received more than 50,000 submissions from people asking the company to remove links. That includes more than 12,000 requests within the first 24 hours of the form’s being made available, according to one of the people with direct knowledge of the matter.
Google this week began notifying individuals — both those residing in Europe and people living outside the region — that their submissions would soon be acted upon.
An internal team, led by Google’s legal department, will review each request to decide if it meets the necessary requirements intended to protect Europeans’ online privacy. If Google approves the request, the company will remove the web link within the 28-nation European Union as well as in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The decisions would affect the German domain google.de, for example, but the link would still be available at google.com from anywhere in the world.
Through Google’s new online form, people based in Europe must list web links that they want removed. They have to explain why those search results are irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate, as well as provide photo identification. It remains unclear whether the legal ruling applies only to people living in Europe, or if people based outside the region, including in the United States, can request that online links be taken down.
Google has been in touch with several of Europe’s national data protection regulators, which will have final say if individuals do not agree with Google’s decision regarding the suspect links, about how best to carry out the European Court of Justice’s ruling.
While the company will start to remove links by the end of June, the process is expected to take several weeks before it is fully operational. Google’s engineering teams — both in Europe and further afield — have been tweaking the company’s search infrastructure since the ruling was made in May.
The changes to Google’s operations will allow for the removal of search results linked to a person’s name, which is mandated by the legal ruling, but will still allow the same links to be displayed if people search for other topics online.
As part of Google’s efforts to comply with the ruling, the company created an advisory group of privacy experts, regulators, academics and company executives. The group includes Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, who has been a vocal opponent of the European court decision.
The committee will have no power to force Google to change its practices, but will instead offer recommendations by the end of the year about how the privacy ruling may affect the company’s presentation of search results to its users worldwide.
The group has yet to meet, but it is expected to gather in the near future, before traveling to several European countries to hold local meetings and gauge how Europeans want their online privacy to be protected.
By MARK SCOTT, bits.blogs.nytimes.com