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Google removes results under ‘right to be forgotten’

Google has started removing search results in Europe to comply with new rules on the "right to be forgotten".

The search engine group on Thursday began to implement a landmark judgement by Europe's highest court, which last month ruled that individuals had the right to request the removal of results linking to personal information under certain conditions.

As of Thursday, whenever a search for a name on Google is conducted, the results page includes the statement: "Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe". This statement (see below) appears for any name apart from those of celebrities.

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Loic Venance | AFP | Getty Images

"This is a new process for us," Google said on Thursday. "Each request has to be assessed individually, and we're working as quickly as possible to get through the queue. We'll continue to work with data protection authorities and others as we implement this ruling."

The company plans to start the takedown process slowly, before accelerating once it is confident its systems are working properly.

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Google has also started to notify individuals whose requests it will not honour and those whose are incomplete, as well as the owners of websites affected by the takedowns.

The European Court of Justice last month ruled that individuals had the right to request the removal of search results linking to "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" personal data - even if the information had been published legally.

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Google responded on 30 May by introducing an online form that gave Europeans a formal route to make removal requests. In the first four days after uploading the form, Google received more than 41,000 requests - averaging about seven every minute. The company on Thursday declined to provide a more up-to-date figure.

Google is not planning to remove links to personal information from the US version of its search engine, meaning that Europeans can visit Google.com to search for information that has been removed from their local version.

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