Microsoft is following Google in allowing people to request results be removed from searches for certain keywords. A form on Bing allows users to submit a request directly to Microsoft in accordance with the “right to be forgotten” law that came into effect several weeks ago. Microsoft state that they will deal with each request individually and ask users to explain why they want the results to be removed and whether or not they are a public figure. The form is only open to European residents, and results will not be removed from territories outside of Europe.
The move from the two search giants to allow people to request search results be removed comes after a controversial ruling from the European Union Court of Justice. The Court ruled that search results should be removed if they are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed”. The Court made the ruling to protect the privacy of individuals who were harmed by having certain outdated information contained in search results.
The case was brought to the European Union Court of Justice after a Spanish man took legal action against Google. He claimed that information about an auction notice on his house infringed his privacy, as it was no longer relevant to his life, as the debt had been paid. While Google argued that removing results would amount to censorship and that they were not responsible for the content on the internet, the court found that it was a breach of privacy. This set a precedent allowing other users to also take legal action, forcing Google into setting up a system where people could request certain results be removed.
However, the sheer amount of requests has led to Google having teething problems with dealing with the problem. They have already removed some results that link to websites such as the BBC and The Guardian, leading to accusations that people were abusing the law to remove embarrassing news stories. Google has since re-instated some of the results, saying that there will be continuing problems as they implement policies to deal with the requests.