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Microsoft Announces Online Form to Deal with EU Right to Be Forgotten Requests

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Although the Microsoft Bing search engine has accounted for only 2.7 percent of European search traffic over the last year, it will still need to comply with the EU Court of Justice decision giving citizens the right to be forgotten.

Microsoft announced Wednesday that it will launch an online form similar to Google to deal with the requests.

“Developing an appropriate system is taking us some time,” Microsoft said in a statement on Wednesday. “We expect to launch a form through which users can make requests soon.”

With 92 percent of the EU search traffic it is not surprising that Google made the first move to comply with the ruling. Google launched its online form late May. Since then, Google has received over 70,000 requests for removal. In July, it began removing links which caused a public outcry and suspicion that Google was removing certain links to create controversy over the ruling that it was against from the start.

According to the New York Times, Microsoft is unsure when the form will be released since it needs to coordinate with Yahoo. It is also unclear whether Microsoft will follow in Google’s footsteps by choosing to notify information publishers of link removal.

Other EU companies are taking a different approach in dealing with the right to be forgotten. The New York Times reported that the Czech Republic company Seznam asks individuals to approach the publisher of the information first. Its search results are then changed based on the removal of the original material.

There isn’t any official guidance yet on what service providers must do to comply with the ruling but that may be changing. Regulations are being drafted by EU states to allow individuals to request removal of personal data.

On Wednesday liberal democrat Simon Hughes addressed a parliamentary committee, commenting on the validity of the decision and legislation going forward.

“The government is concerned. We would not want what is currently in the draft [ie the right to be forgotten]. We think it’s the wrong position,” Hughes said, according to a Guardian report. “I don’t think we want the law to develop in the way that is implied by the ECJ judgment, which is that you close down access to information in the EU which is open in the rest of the world. We do not agree with the present text.”

“There is no right given by the judgment for people to have their personal data deleted from the search engine results. There is no unfettered right. There is no right to be forgotten. Not in the law of the UK, not in directives, not in the judgments of the court,” Hughes said.

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office is charged with upholding information rights in the public interest as well as promoting data privacy rights for individuals. The Guardian reported that Hughes said there have been complaints to the office but they wouldn’t yet consider it “swamped.” The ICO hopes to discourage people thinking they can get links deleted that are in the public interest. Hughes added: “If politicians think they can delete findings about their expenses, that’s not going to … [happen]. If people think they can delete their criminal history, it won’t occur. It’s not in the public interest. I hope we can discourage a lot of people.”

The cost of enforcing this ruling is on the rise not only to companies but to government as well. “Ministers have estimated that the cost to British businesses of enforcing a new EU law on the right to be forgotten and related regulations would be up to £360m a year,” according to The Guardian.

Only time will tell whether the EU court of justice decision will affect new legislation and policies.

 

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