By Matt McGee
Although there was little guidance on how to handle “Right To Be Forgotten” (RTBF) requests, Google’s PR Chief in Europe says the company acted quickly to process those requests and remove some URLs out of a fear of being sued.
Peter Barron, the head of Google’s European communications, told a packed session today at the Web Summit in Ireland that the company would’ve liked more guidance from the European Court of Justice on how to handle the thousands of requests it started receiving soon after the ruling was announced in May.
“The terms of the ruling were vague,” he said. “There wasn’t guidance as to how we should implement it. But we respected the court’s ruling and decided to follow it. Should we have waited for official guidance? We’ve had 160,000 requests, so our feeling was that we could’ve opened ourself up to litigation if we didn’t act.”
Google was criticized when it started notifying publishers affected by the RTBF removals, and for how it added a blanket removal notice on some search results pages. Some critics suggested that Google was doing that to make a mockery of the ruling, or to make it appear that the company lacked the resources to implement RTBF more precisely. Not so, according to Barron.
“We weren’t processing requests in a way to save money, or make a point about the ruling itself, as was reported and suggested in the coverage,” Barron said. “When the ruling was announced, we said we were ‘disappointed’ by it, but we didn’t say anything stronger than that.”
Barron says Google now has “scores” of employees and paralegal assistants working on RTBF requests as they come in. In a funny back-and-forth with reporters from The Guardian, who were also on the panel, Barron wouldn’t reveal the exact number, …read more