As of the end of last week there were roughly 12,000 requests that had been officially submitted to Google under Europe’s judicially created “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) rule. Google launched an online form last week to field the requests.
According to the Wall Street Journal the 12,000 have now turned into 41,000. That’s roughly 10,000 a day since the form went live. While the volume and pace are decreasing somewhat from last week, the numbers coming in remain brisk.
Google could be faced in a few weeks with several hundred thousand requests from 28 countries, creating a major headache and requiring a much larger staff to address the individual submissions. No individual country in Europe has yet developed any process or procedure to address RTBF and Google hasn’t done much more than put up the form.
I can imagine that all over Europe people are Googling themselves and submitting requests for any and every link that they think is damaging to their personal reputations or otherwise unflattering. It will initially be up to Google to grant or deny these requests.
Most will probably be denied but there are no real standards or rules in place to determine how to evaluate the requests beyond assessing whether the content behind the links is “outdated” or “irrelevant.” That suggests purging links that are older than X (?) years and making distinctions between public and private figures.
Postscript: Privacy officials from the EU’s 28 member states have gathered today in Brussels to start two days of discussion about implementing the ruling and are expected to name a subcommittee to study the issue on Wednesday, the Journal reported. “We want come up with some guidelines for Europe,” Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, head of France’s privacy watchdog, told the Journal. “We have to think in detail about questions that Google itself acknowledges aren’t easy.” The Article 29 Working Party — named after the EU data-privacy directive that created the group — hopes to have guidelines in place by the group’s next meeting in September.