Bing and Yahoo has now joined Google in its willingness to scrub search results following the “right to be forgotten” ruling last May.
Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, has rolled out its removal request function last July which allows European nationals to submit “right to be forgotten” requests but has only started the actual removals.
A spokesperson from Microsoft said, “We’ve begun processing requests as a result of the court’s ruling and in accordance with the guidance from European data protection authorities. While we’re still refining that process, our goal is to strike a satisfactory balance between individual privacy interests and the public’s interest in free expression.”
Reputation VIP, a French reputation management company responsible for the site forget.me which helps users make deletion requests on search engines, confirmed that Bing has now started to respond and implement requests for link removals.
Meanwhile, Yahoo whose search engines is really ‘powered by Bing’ naturally followed suit. According to their spokesperon: “In response to a May 2014 decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union, European residents can request that Yahoo block certain search results in Europe. Requests can be submitted through our intake form. We will carefully evaluate each request with the goal of balancing the individual’s right to privacy with considerations of the public’s right to information.”
Currently, only European residents can ask search engines to stop from coughing up results related to their name. The controversial ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice, dubbed as the “right to be forgotten”, requires search engines to remove links to content that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed”. It was made when a man from Spain filed a lawsuit against Google regarding the removal of links connected to his name.
When the ruling gained public attention, Google was promptly flooded with removal requests. According to its Transparency Report it got over 174,000 “right to be forgotten” requests as of November. It is the primary affected party in the ruling as it commands around 90% of all the search requests, compared to the combined shares of Yahoo and Bing. More than 70% of the deletion requests sent through Forget.me is for Google but apparently, only a third of those is granted.
At present, link removals are being done only in local version such as google.co.uk and not on the main site google.com. Data regulators from Europe are expecting that Google and the others will eventually apply such removals globally as well and are pushing for the implementation of link removals on all the relevant domains of the search engine.
The group of privacy regulators in Europe has already published a set of guidelines two weeks ago, to serve as standards on how search engines ought to manage the “right to be forgotten” requests. The new guidelines are expected to be met unfavorably by the leading search engine firms and by privacy advocates. The privacy regulators formed from 28 European countries drafted 13 guidelines that, though not binding, will be utilized by the data protection department of each involved country whenever needed.
As Christopher Graham, UK data commissioner, said: “The polluter pays, the polluter should clear up. Google is a massive commercial organisation making millions and millions out of processing people’s personal information. They’re going to have to do some tidying up.”
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