As ex-politicians and convicted paedophiles clamour to get potentially damaging information about themselves removed from Google search results, I decided to take a different tack, choosing instead to ask the global search engine to remove a link to a little story I wrote when I first started at The Independent.
The Google web form asks me to provide the URL to the link I want removed. I diligently copy and paste from my web browser. Next, I have to explain why I want to remove the link. “My editor told me to” seems a tad trite, so I embellish the truth slightly and tell them the picture of me that accompanies the story is inaccurate and outdated. I have pink hair now, not blonde.
To ensure the form hasn’t been filled out by someone trying to impersonate me, I have to upload a form of photo ID. I click submit and am told to expect a confirmation email shortly. Twenty minutes later, a reply pings into my inbox.
“We have received your legal request. We are currently building our system for removing links from our search results according to EU data protection law. In the meantime, your message is in our queue. Once we have our system up and running, we’ll process your request as quickly as our workload permits.”
With thousands of requests flying in from across Europe, I’m not holding my breath.