In 2012, the European Union Commission published plans for a “right to be forgotten” law which would force online services such as Google to erase the links to data detailing an individual unless a legitimate reason to do otherwise outweighed the request. The plans were developed in order to erase grey areas in the 1995 Data Protection Directive.
On May 13th, the European court ruled for the “right to be forgotten” to be put in place, resulting in Google to launch a service allowing Europeans to ask for personal data to be removed from online search results. In order to make a removal request, it is required for an online form with a link to the material, the country of origin and the reason for removing the information, as well as being reinforced by a valid photo ID. Google often receive fraudulent requests from people impersonating others in an attempt to harm competition or suppress legal information, therefore this is prevented by identification being present.
Google are to assess each request made, balancing the privacy of an individual with the importance of the public’s right to know. Outdated information will be examined and compared against public interest in order to determine the need for the information to be available. The main requests to be assessed are associated with financial scams, professional malpractice and criminal convictions: especially since over 50% of requests sent in to Google were from UK individuals in correspondence to criminal convictions.
Although the ruling has now been passed, there is still large amounts of speculation, such as that of Google’s innovativeness and other general concerns. Claims that the law raises unrealistic and unfair expectations were declared by the UK Ministry Of Justice, however the next few months will be the only insight as to the negative effects of the new law and whether further uproar will occur to those whom have their requests denied.
To learn about where the “right to be forgotten” originates, click here.