Google begins removing contested search results

Thursday 26 June 2014 17.10
Google has received tens of thousands of requests to have search results removed
Google has received tens of thousands of requests to have search results removed

Google has begun removing some search results to comply with a European Union ruling upholding citizens' right to have objectionable information about them hidden in search engines.

The so-called "right to be forgotten" was upheld by Europe's top court on 13 May when it ordered Google to remove a link to a 15-year-old newspaper article about a Spanish man's bankruptcy.

"This week we're starting to take action on removals requests that we've received," a Google spokesman said.

"This is a new process for us. Each request has to be assessed individually and we're working as quickly as possible to get through the queue."

Google received over 41,000 requests over four days after it put up an online form allowing Europeans to request that search results be removed.

Internet privacy concerns shot up the agenda last year when former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed details of mass US surveillance programmes involving European citizens and some heads of state.

The EU executive has been critical of several major US web companies, such as Facebook and Google, over their handling of swathes of personal data.

National governments recently moved towards extending Europe's strict data protection rules to all companies, not just European ones.