Remember how the EU ruled that Google has to comply with people's requests to be forgotten last week? The tech behemoth has just introduced the first step in that process. This new form allows you to beseech the internet gods to request the removal of your personal data from online search results. You can find it here.
The form specifies that it will only deal with data deemed to be "inadequate, irrelevant or otherwise inappropriate". You also need to provide some kind of photo identification like a passport in order to prove your identity.
If your request is successful, Google will delete links to pages hosting the data – that doesn't mean the page is taken down, but it does make it a lot harder for other people to search for it. Unless they want to use Ask Jeeves or something, I guess. Unfortunately, the EU ruling only applies to European citizens, so Americans and those outside Europe can't put in a request.
There's no indication of how long it'll take Google to respond to requests, but the form does say: "We're working to finalize our implementation of removal requests under European data protection law as soon as possible. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and we will notify you when we start processing your request. We appreciate your patience."
It's the first step in a ruling that has outraged Google and freedom of information activists, the latter of which are concerned that the law may compromise the internet's initial ethos. In a statement the international free speech watchdog Index On Censorship outlined their disappointment: "It allows individuals to complain to search engines about information they do not like with no legal oversight. This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to pulp books."
On the other hand, it's good to know there's some form of solution if you've got embarrassing shit floating around the internet. Apply here to take that shit down now.
Follow Thomas Gorton on Twitter here @angstromhoot
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