EU regulators are trying to establish some order in handling appeals against Google's rejections of 'right to be forgotten' requests

EU-regulators define 'right to be forgotten' criteria

EU regulators have agreed on criteria for assessing "right to be forgotten" requests rejected by search engines.

At a two day meeting in Brussels, the regulators agreed that factors such as time passed since the information had been published, public profile of the person involved or whether it was related to a crime, should be taken into consideration.

The final guidelines, aiming to clarify the implementation of this year’s landmark court decision which gave Europeans the right to ask for information about them to be erased from search engine results, will be published in November.

A contact person at each national data protection authority will ensure that appeals people file are handled consistently across the EU's 28 member states, the statement from the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) said on Thursday.

"We want the toolbox to guide difficult decisions on how to balance the individual's right to privacy in the Internet age against the public interest," Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, who heads France's privacy watchdog and the WP29, said earlier this month.

The regulators did not mention the controversial issue whether search engines ought to inform publishers when their articles have been removed from search results. However, the WP29 members met with media companies on the sidelines of the meeting to gather their views on how to strike a balance between the freedom of information and privacy.

Google's decision to notify the media via email that their articles had been scrubbed from results prompted the BBC and The Guardian to write articles about the removals, condemning them as censorship aimed at whitewashing the past.

They meeting also did not address whether links have to be removed from all versions of Google or just the local search engines. Google has been previously criticised for keeping the links in the main Google.com database and only deleting them form local national search engines.

Google said it had received over 120,000 requests from across Europe to remove from its search results everything from serious criminal records, embarrassing photos and negative press stories.

Around 90 appeals have been filed against Google’s refusal of such requests with privacy regulators in the UK. Further 70 appeals were received by privacy regulators Spain, 20 in France and 13 in Ireland.

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