Google has certainly had some experience dealing with take-down requests in the past – primarily dealing with copyright infringing content – but nothing was to prepare it for the overwhelming influx of requests it reportedly received following the ECJ ruling on the subject last week.
Europe’s highest court ruled that internet search services are obliged to remove information deemed to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”, and failure to do so could result in fines.
According to the ruling, European citizens can make requests directly to Google and other internet search service providers to remove the offending links, and need not go through local authorities or publishers. Since Google reportedly dominates about 93% of the search engine market in Europe, this burden will clearly weigh most heavily on its shoulders.
The ruling appears to allow search engines to retain links to web pages containing information about public figures deemed to be of public interest, however it does not clearly lay down the criteria for determining which take-down requests are legitimate. Search engines may therefore be justified in erring on the side of caution and removing more links than necessary in order to steer clear of liability.
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