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Google: Grab our TOOL if you want your search query quashed

'We're working with the EU to improve this. Meantime, give us YOUR ID'

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Google is now offering European Union netizens a hastily thrown together online form they can fill in to submit requests for certain types of links to be removed from the ad giant's search index.

It comes after the EU's highest court ruled earlier this month that Google can be held responsible for the type of personal data that appears on its ubiquitous search engine.

Google admitted that the form – not obviously accessible but available through a user-initiated search of its support page – was just a temporary measure rushed out in reaction to the European Court of Justice decision.

The landmark ruling had concluded that search engine operators were obliged – in some circumstances – to kill links to web pages that are published by third parties.

The Larry Page-run company noted that it was required to comply with the ruling where such removal requests relate to an individual complaining about queries that include their name displaying results that are "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed."

Google said:

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 When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information - for example, information about financial scams, professional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 multi-billion-dollar advertising mammoth confessed that the frankly amateurish form was "an initial effort." It said: "We look forward to working closely with data protection authorities and others over the coming months as we refine our approach."

Meanwhile, anyone asking to have queries removed from Google's search index will need to provide valid photo ID, such as a copy of their passport or driving licence.

But Google – which commands more than 90 per cent of the search market in Europe – made no mention today of how long it plans to retain that particular sensitive information on its servers.

Page told the Financial Times that Google was setting up a committee of members to advise the company on how to deal with privacy issues in the EU. Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales is among the advisors. Exec chairman Eric Schmidt will head up the committee.

“We’re trying now to be more European and think about it maybe more from a European context,” Page told the FT. “A very significant amount of time is going to be spent in Europe talking.”

The CEO once again claimed that the ruling would increase online censorship and be bad for start-ups in Europe. “We’re a big company and we can respond to these kind of concerns and spend money on them and deal with them, it’s not a problem for us,” he told FT. “But as a whole, as we regulate the internet, I think we’re not going to see the kind of innovation we’ve seen.” ®

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