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The move is the company's latest stroke of genius, but this time, Google's not crafting a futuristic new product. It's finding a way to deliver the perfect balance between privacy and freedom of information to users.
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In early May, an EU court said that individual European citizens have the right to demand that Google remove their personal data from Internet search results. The ruling has come to be known as the "right to be forgotten" law.
In response, GOOG launched a service in late May that allows citizens to apply for data removal, but it's proven an extremely burdensome task for the company.
You see, Google currently processes more than 90% of all web searches in Europe. The day it launched the service, the company received more than 12,000 data removal requests – or 20 requests per minute. By July, Google had received a staggering 90,000 requests.
The company must evaluate each request to determine whether the information in question is "irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate." It must verify the authenticity of the person making the request via photo or other ID. And, most problematically, Google must weigh the removal against the public's right to know the information.
So far, Google has granted more than half the applicant requests.
But the system leaves GOOG in the awkward – and powerful – position of Internet censorship. It's a controversial responsibility that neither Google nor the backers of the "right to be forgotten" law want the company to take part in.
And that's precisely why the company is holding meetings across Europe starting this week…