Google Gets 12,000 "Forget Me" Requests on First Day of European Feature

On the first day of a new program, Google received over 12,000 "forget me" requests from Europeans who would rather not have their party pics offered up for all to see. The number of requests on Friday alone is close to estimates offered by the German paper Der Spiegel, though Google has not said how long it will take to hide requested information. Requests in the 24 hours after the feature went live came as fast as 20 per minute.

Although Friday was the first day Europeans could exercise their "right to be forgotten," the debate has been brewing for quite a while. The European Court of Justice – Europe's version of the Supreme Court – ruled on May 13 to uphold a 1995 data-protection law covering information that is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" to citizens' lives. Following the court's interpretation, on Friday Google released a form for European citizens to submit a request for certain data to be "forgotten" by European versions of the search engine. Significantly, links granted a removal request will still be available on Google.com, the American site.

As Bustle reported when the program went live, records of things such as violent crime are unlikely to be hidden, although reputation-damaging information such as a person's past bankruptcies and juvenile arrest records are fair game. Celebrities are probably less likely than non-public figures to have requests granted. Each of those 12,000-plus requests will be individually reviewed to evaluate the validity of the request, according to Google:

In implementing this decision, we will assess each individual request and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information. When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.

"The court's ruling requires Google to make difficult judgements about an individual's right to be forgotten and the public's right to know," a Google spokesman told NBC News. Representatives from the EU's 28 data-protection agencies are scheduled to meet next week to discuss the broader implications of the court ruling.