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Google begins removing search results under 'right to be forgotten' law

Google begins removing search results under 'right to be forgotten' law


Company adds disclaimer to the bottom of searches for people's names, in compliance with controversial EU ruling

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Google has begun removing results for searches on some individuals in Europe, in compliance with a controversial court ruling that established the so-called "right to be forgotten." As the Wall Street Journal reports, the company has added a disclaimer to all searches for people's names, noting that results "may have been removed." The note is placed at the bottom of search pages, and only appears on Google searches conducted from Europe.

The move follows a landmark ruling handed down last month by the European Union Court of Justice, which determined that it's Google's responsibility to remove outdated or "irrelevant" search results hosted by third parties. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reading praised the decision at the time, calling it a "clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans," though others have raised concerns over its implementation, fearing that it could mark a slippery slope toward online censorship.

"Some results may have been removed under the data protection law in Europe."

In a statement to The Verge last month, Google described the decision as "a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general," though it swiftly complied. On May 30th, the company launched a service that allows European citizens to request that certain links be removed from searches on their names, noting that each request would be considered by Google staff rather than the algorithms that underpin its search engine.

A Google spokesman tells the Wall Street Journal that the company updated its infrastructure Wednesday night to begin scrubbing results, and that individuals whose results have been removed will be notified by email beginning today.

"This week we're starting to take action on the removals requests that we've received," the spokesman said. "This is a new process for us. Each request has to be assessed individually, and we're working as quickly as possible to get through the queue."