Google will announce by the end of the month a mechanism for consumers to request that links to information about them be removed from the company’s search engine, a leading European regulator said Thursday. It was one of the first signs that Google was working through how to operate after a court ruling said consumers could make such requests.
Ulrich Kuhn, head of the technical department at Hamburg’s data protection regulator, one of Germany’s leading data protection agencies, said a basic online tool for people to ask Google to take down potentially harmful links would be in place in about two weeks.
Google would not comment on when the mechanism would be online or how the tool would work.
In a statement, the company said Tuesday’s ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union would have implications for how the company handles requests for information to be taken down.
“This is logically complicated,” Google said in a statement. “As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.”
The decision by Europe’s top court to allow individuals to demand that Google take down links in certain instances has been seen as a landmark case in the Continent’s push toward increased data privacy.
The court’s ruling centered on the so-called right to be forgotten, which would allow people to ask Google to remove links to certain online information about themselves.
European data protection authorities say that since the ruling, the number of complaints from people seeking ways to take down online links to their past activities has increased.
Kuhn said his office had received almost 20 complaints from Germans since Tuesday. On average, two people had contacted the authority each week before the Google court decision.
“The ruling took us by surprise,” said Kuhn, who contacted Google on Wednesday to find out how it would adjust to the court’s decision. “The court has cemented the right to be forgotten into European law.”