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Right to be forgotten: Google may flag up instances of removed links

As Google continues to receive around 10,000 requests a day from Europe-based Web users keen to exercise their “right to be forgotten“, a report in the Guardian on Sunday claimed the Mountain View company is considering flagging up instances where links have been removed by placing an alert at the bottom of a page of returned results.

Google already uses such a system for searches involving copyrighted material – for example, MP3s for music tracks – notifying the Web user of the number of links that have been removed from the results page following a request by the copyright holder.

A controversial ruling by the European Court of Justice on May 13 gave those living in Europe the right to be forgotten and have links to Web pages removed if the information contained on those pages is considered to be irrelevant, out of date, or inappropriate.

While Google launched an online form at the end of last month allowing Web users in Europe to request the removal of search engine results linking to sites containing information about them, the company is still working out how best to implement the system and deal with requests.

To be clear, should Google agree with a person’s request to have links removed, the Web page will stay online, but Google will on longer link to it in its search results.

The Web giant said last week that in the space of just a few days it’d received 41,000 requests for link removal, with one report suggesting the company may have to hire new workers to help deal with the deluge.

Takedown requests have so far come from a variety of people, including, according to the Guardian, “a politician with a murky past, a convicted pedophile and a man who had attempted to murder his family and wanted to remove links about his crime.”

The idea that Google may flag up instances where links have been removed will likely come as a disappointment to those whose takedown requests are granted as it would simply draw attention to the fact that there’s more content on the Web related to the individual concerned and would therefore likely motivate the person performing the search to dig deeper in an effort to find that ‘hidden’ content.

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