Google will announce by the end of the month a mechanism for consumers to request that links to information about them be removed from the company’s search engine, a leading European regulator said Thursday. It was one of the first signs that Google was working through how to operate after a court ruling said consumers could make such requests.
Ulrich Kühn, head of the technical department at Hamburg’s data protection regulator, one of Germany’s leading data protection agencies, said the details of the mechanism still had to be finalized. But a basic online tool for people to ask Google to take down potentially harmful links would be in place in about two weeks, he said.
“They are trying to come up with something that users can use to lodge complaints about specific links,” Kühn said. “It will be rolled out across Europe for all citizens.”
Google would not comment on when the mechanism would be online or how the tool would work.
In a statement, the search engine said the ruling on Tuesday by the Court of Justice of the European Union would have implications about how the company handles requests for information to be taken down.
“This is logically complicated,” Google said in a statement. “As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.”
The decision by Europe’s top court to allow individuals to demand that Google take down links in certain instances has been seen as a landmark case in the continent’s push toward increased data privacy.
The court’s ruling centered on the so-called right to be forgotten, which would allow individuals to ask Google to remove links to certain online information about themselves. Unlike the United States, Europe places almost equal emphasis on the right to privacy and the right of freedom of expression.
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