Google has begun removing links at the request of European Union residents following the European Union Court of Justice ruling that mandated the world’s most popular search engine must accept requests from users and remove links if needed. Although Google has spoken out against the decision, it has complied so it can continue to do business in the EU.
Forget.me – the service started to help EU residents through the process of filing a removal request from Google — has put out some data about who is visiting the website and what they want Google to forget. The service takes users step-by-step through the process and allows them to track their requests after submitting it. It is a part of the French startup ReputationVIP.
So far the largest group of visitors cannot use the website. One-third of visitors to the website so far are American. The irony is that American residents cannot make the requests because the EU ruling only affects EU residents. Americans and others residing in the United States cannot use Forget.me because it is designed for users residing in the EU and subject to its rules, including the recent court decision. However, visitors are not the same as people using the website. About 13,000 of the more than 43,000 visitors to the website registered with it.
Of those registered users, the majority has yet to file a request to have links removed. More than 1,000 requests have been filed via Forget.me, requesting the removal of more than 5,000 links. The top reason for filing a request is invasion of privacy, followed by defamation and insult and misuse of identity. These top three make up approximately 53 percent of requests.
Google has also put out its own form for EU users to request that Google removes results. This option is the more popular way for users to request that links to be removed from Google search results. So far the company has received more than 50,000 requests for link removal from search results. It has recently begun removing links, posting notices on pages where search results have been removed similar to its DMCA notices when copyright violations are removed from Google. This only affects the EU version of Google. Search results from regions outside the EU will continue to show links removed on the EU version.
Google put up the form quickly following the court ruling to show it was complying since it was on the losing side of the court case. Other search engines have been slower to comply. Bing announced in mid-June that it was working on the feature. Yahoo has yet to make any comment regarding the ruling. They and other search engines accessible in the EU have to comply with the ruling.