The European Court of Justice decision giving people the “right to be forgotten” on the internet has created thousands of requests to google to remove links. Although Google created a form to initiate removal requests, the new site forget.me claims to make the process even easier. Forget.me offers to optimize one’s removal request.
According to its website, “Forget.me helps you to justify your removal request to Google thanks to our predefined standard texts written by experts in order to increase your chance of success.” The service also detects when the links have been removed by Google and sends a notification.
The forget.me site explains in the frequently asked questions section who can use the form and what is appropriate for removal. It attempts to simplify the complex court decision that is open to a lot of interpretation. All residents residing in the EU regardless of nationality are able to use the form. In compliance with the court decision, links are de-indexed in European search engines, however no content is removed. Links removed from EU search engines still exist on search engines in other countries.
The parent company of forget.me is Reputation VIP, a French company started in 2012 that manages online reputation. “In just a few years, Google has emerged as the most widely-used tool on the internet to find information about brands, individuals or businesses. It’s a crucial vehicle for online reputation.” according to the website. “Reputation VIP has created a unique solution: the Digital Fortress™, to enable its customers to select which information is displayed about them as a result of a Google search.”
The Reputation VIP ethics committee states that algorithms should not be allowed to rank information and that results on the first result page are generally viewed as “truth.”
“We advocate for a right to erase our internet footprints and the right to protect our private lives from a digital locker that can be used for all purposes without any respect for who we are.” says the site. “Our Ethics Committee is not a moral authority on good or bad reputations. Our aim is to provide people with the ability to live in today’s technical world in a free, responsible manner and to respect free-will to the extent that it is possible.”
Others see the EU court decision as censorship. In email comments to TechCrunch, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says, “In the case of truthful, non-defamatory information obtained legally, I think there is no possibility of any defensible ‘right’ to censor what other people are saying.”
With the decision barely a month old it remains to be seen how this ruling will play out over time. Google plans to start removing links to comply with the decision by the end of June. According to the New York Times, Google has now received over 50,000 requests for removal and has consulted Europe’s national data protection regulators. These agencies will have final say if individuals don’t agree with a Google decision.