What happens when you Google your name? Do the results turn up that hideous yearbook picture you’ve been regretting for 10 years? Maybe now you’ll be able to change that.
Earlier this month the European Union’s Court of Justice ruled against Google in a case protecting the “Right to be Forgotten.” Despite the search giant’s protests, European citizens can now request the company delete links to any embarrassing information. Starting today Google has set up a form on its website for anyone looking to take advantage of the ruling.
The form isn’t particularly easy to find, buried within Google’s support site. Once you find it you’re asked to select the European country you live in and list the URLs you want removed along with an explanation for each link you believe should be deleted. Finally, you’ll have to upload a copy of document proving your identity.
Once you’ve completed the form Google will consider your request. The company notes certain results that qualify as “public interest” won’t be deleted, “including information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.” As long as your links don’t fall under any of these categories there’s a chance Google will complete your request. Of course the links will still exist online, Google just won’t link to them anymore when someone searches for your name.
Google’s top leadership, including Sergey Brin, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, have all spoken out individually against the ruling in one way or another. The right to be forgotten clearly goes against the company’s ambitious goal of cataloging all the world’s information, but Google doesn’t really have any other option except to go along with the European ruling. Whether the company successfully follows through with these requests, however, remains to be seen.