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Google launches new ‘right to forget’ form

Companies could be forced to monitor their online content more closely, after search giant Google launched a new European service allowing people to get data about them taken down.

Coming weeks after the  European Union (EU) ruled that people had a right to request the removal of irrelevant data about them, the firm said outdated content should be erased when it is asked for.

However, it was eager to stress that each request would be treated solely on its own merits, with an aim to balance an individual’s right to privacy with the “public’s right to know and distribute information”.

The instructions on the form from Google continued:

“When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information.”

Considerations for content to be taken down will not be limited, with the search engine saying that this would include content focused on financial scams and criminal convictions. It also said that reports of professional malpractice or misconduct in public office would also be considered.

A BBC investigation in May 2014 reported that over half of all takedown requests from the UK are centred on criminal convictions.

To limit the number of erroneous and illegitimate requests being sent, there will be certain caveats in place.

Users will have to provide the links to the material that they want taken down, along with a full explanation of why it should be removed. People will also need to state what country they are in, as well as provide photographic proof of identity.

Despite its action, Google has warned that it is worried about the effect that the right to forget ruling will have on the future of the internet.

Saying that he fears it will damage innovation, Google’s boss Larry Page warned that for more restrictive governments and regimes, the ruling could be seen as a blessing.

Steven Morris

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