Google Now Ready to Begin ‘Forgetting’ Europeans

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Last month, several of our favorite PR experts weighed in on a European Union court’s decision to force Google to consider “forgetting” individual Europeans when their search results include unflattering links. The general consensus held that, while this decision could greatly affect European clients, it would almost certainly not spread to the U.S.

Yesterday, however, Google announced that it was ready to begin the process of forgetting. Details after the jump.

By the end of the month, Google promises to begin removing links. The most important question, of course, is how they will determine which links to erase: they’ve already received a whopping 50,000 requests.

From The New York Times:

“An internal team, led by Google’s legal department, will review each request to decide if it meets the necessary requirements intended to protect Europeans’ online privacy. If Google approves the request, the company will remove the web link within the 28-nation European Union as well as in Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.”

…and here are the two big BUTS:

“…the link would still be available at google.com from anywhere in the world.

It remains unclear whether the legal ruling applies only to people living in Europe”

While Google has assembled “an advisory group of privacy experts, regulators, academics and company executives”, they will have no real influence over the company’s policies; they’ll only make suggestions.

These details almost certainly won’t change PR’s general approach to the matter for U.S. clients, but this is still a story that everyone in the industry should watch closely.