SAN FRANCISCO May 14 Google Inc is already getting requests to remove objectionable personal information from its search engine after Europe's top court ruled that subjects have the "right to be forgotten," a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The world's No. 1 Internet search company has yet to figure out how to handle an expected flood of requests after Tuesday's ruling, said the source, who is not authorized to speak on the record about the issue.
The decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union, which affects the region's 500 citizens, requires that Internet search services remove information deemed "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant." Failure to do so can result in fines.
Google will need to build up an "army of removal experts" in each of the 28 European Union countries, including those where Google does not have operations, the source said. Whether those experts merely remove controversial links or actually judge the merits of individual take-down requests are among the many questions Google has yet to figure out, the source said.
Europeans can submit take-down requests directly to Internet companies rather than to local authorities or publishers under the ruling.
Google is the dominant search engine in Europe, commanding about 93 percent of the market, according to StatCounter global statistics. Microsoft Corp's Bing has 2.4 percent and Yahoo Inc has 1.7 percent.
The company has said it is disappointed with the ruling, which it said differed dramatically from a non-binding opinion by the ECJ's court adviser last year which noted that deleting information from search results would interfere with freedom of expression.
Yahoo is "carefully reviewing" the decision to assess the impact for its business and its users, a spokeswoman said in a statement. "Since our founding almost 20 years ago, we've supported an open and free internet; not one shaded by censorship."
Microsoft declined to comment. (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Richard Chang)