Google has begun deleting some search results at the request of its users, after a court ruling that European Union citizens have a right to ask for the removal of embarrassing personal information that pops up on a search of their names.
Several weeks after the May ruling by the European Court of Justice on the so-called “right to be forgotten,” the company set up an online interface for users to register their complaints.
The company said Thursday it has begun taking down results this week. But Google’s European spokesman, Al Verney, said there is a significant backlog to work through. At last report, more than 50,000 people from multiple nationalities had filed requests to have information removed.
“Each request has to be assessed individually,” Verney said.
The company is not releasing information on what percentage of complaints appear to fall into areas the court specified as potentially objectionable: results that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”
Critics of the ruling say removing result links is censorship and will lead to politicians and criminals requesting elimination of information. But supporters note the court specified Google should not remove links to information when the public’s right to know about it outweighs an individual’s right to privacy.