In the Internet age, it can be harder to leave your past behind than ever before, but that might have become just a bit easier this past week. Following a ruling by a European Commission earlier this month, Google now has a form that lets users submit a request to remove links to personal data to be removed from searches.
The ruling declared that there is an intrinsic "right to be forgotten" online and that Google should respond to inquiries to stop linking to anything that's "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed."
The decision came as a response to a privacy decision by the European Union Court of Justice regarding a number of cases brought by the Spanish data protection authority in 2011. One such case involved an individual who felt an auction listing for his repossessed house violated his privacy.
Google responded by issuing a form that users can fill out and submit links that they want to be removed. At that point, Google will "assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public's right to know and distribute information."
The submissions will be overseen by a committee of experts including independent experts from outside of Google. To prevent the unscrupulous from scrubbing their digital track, Google has promised to weigh "whether there's a public interest in the information – for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions or public conduct of government officials."
Unfortunately, removal of links requires quite a bit of information to be provided. In addition to the URL and an explanation of why the link should be removed, a name, email address and a photo ID must also be provided. If Google approves the request, the results will be removed from all of Google's EU sites, though the removal will not apply to search results outside of the EU.