Google privacy law: Who is bound by the ruling and how will it work?

  • @chloehamilton

What will the cost to Google be?

No one knows at this stage.

Who will decide if the links are taken down?

A committee, largely made up of outside experts. The committee will be headed by Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, and David Drummond, Google’s senior vice president of corporate development and chief legal officer, as well as academics, and former data regulators from a number of European countries.

Will there be one central body or nation by nation?

One organisation made up of Google employees, but most probably across multiple countries. They are still determining where the Google staff will be geographically located. If Google contests a request it will then be redirected to national data protection agencies.

Who is bound by the  EU ruling, ie which search engines?

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling applies to any operator of a search engine, so in theory it could apply to every search engine – not just Google.

What can the individual do?

Anyone who wants a link removed from Google search results must fill out a form providing the URL of the offending material, their home country, and an explanation of why they think the link should be removed. Applicants will also be asked to submit a valid form of photo ID.

Can anyone else make the requests?

Yes, individuals other than the person mentioned in the results (eg: lawyer, family member) can make the requests on behalf of another. 

How will it work? 

Google will examine all requests against the criteria set by the ECJ, using humans not algorithms to make decisions. Successful requests will see links being removed from mid-June. Searchers will be notified when a link has been removed but they won’t be told what the information was about, or sent a URL. Because the ruling only applies to Google’s European sites, (, .it, .fr etc) a query on would still throw up the offending material. The articles will still remain online. Google can only remove links from search results, they can’t remove the stories. If Google doesn’t agree with the request, or cannot decide, the complaints will be taken to national data protection agencies.

Who has taken action so far?

So far 40 per cent of requests have come from Germany, 14 per cent from Spain, 13 per cent from the UK, and 3 and 4 per cent from Italy and France. Thirty-one per cent of the requests are links to articles regarding fraud or scams, 30 per cent are “other”, 20 per cent are arrests/convictions for violent/serious crimes, 12 per cent of requests are regarding pornography arrests, and 1 request is from a pink-haired Indy journo asking that a link to one of her stories be taken down… As well as me, a former politician seeking re-election, a paedophile and a GP are among the British applicants so far.

How can people bypass the ruling? 

Web users could bypass the ruling by hiding their location from the server. They can either use a proxy to fool the webpage into thinking they are in a different country, surf the web anonymously by concealing their IP address, or use a virtual private network (VNP), which will connect them with a host server that will encrypt their internet activities and assign them a new IP address.