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Google receives 12,000 requests to be 'forgotten' on first day

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Rose Powell

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Google is fielding thousands of applications to change their search results.

Google is fielding thousands of applications to change their search results. Photo: Reuters

Over 12,000 people have lodged requests to be "forgotten" by Google on the first day the search giant offered the service.

The deluge of requests comes after a ruling in early May by the European Court of Justice that gave individuals the right to have outdated or inaccurate articles or links removed from search results.

Google has previously labelled the court's finding disappointing.

"The court's ruling requires Google to make difficult judgments about an individual's right to be forgotten and the public's right to know," said a Google spokesman in a statement.

Grounds for removal include "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed”.

The service is only available to European citizens. If they are successful, the links will only be removed from European search findings.

Google has so far declined to indicate how quickly the links will be removed. The forms will be fielded by Google staff rather than software.

But the results don’t disappear completely, as a message will be displayed with the findings to note the results have been modified to comply with legal requirements.

Applicants must include an explanation of why the information should be removed and digital copies of photo identification.

Google is setting up an advisory committee to guide the process.

The group will include former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and Oxford Internet Institute ethics professor Luciano Floridi.

In a written statement, Mr Floridi said the committee would require some hard and rather philosophical thinking.

"I'm delighted to join the international advisory committee established by Google to evaluate the ethical and legal challenges posed by the Internet," he wrote.

The successful court case that necessitated Google's action was brought by a Spanish man, Mario Costeja Gonzalez, who successfully fought the tech giant to have 16-year old articles about his home being repossessed removed from search results.

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