How to Remove ‘Humiliating Data About You’ From Google Search

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Google Signage
The Google signage is seen at the company's offices in New York January 8, 2013. Reuters/Andrew Kelly

European Union court judges have ruled out that personal details of individuals maintained by Google must be removed or deleted upon request.

Although the ruling obligates Google to remove the link that has the information about individuals, it does not demand the removal of the information from the Web or online. Users of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and other social media may still share information about others, but Google will not list them in the search results page.

The European Union Court's ruling gives the right to European citizens to make requests to Google to take down links. As the court rightfully puts it, an individual should have the "right to be forgotten," especially when the shared data seemed "bogus, no longer relevant, or unreasonable," pertaining to the intention for which they were processed once, but becomes irrelevant in the present time.

Apparently, a Spanish national's complaint was the main reason behind the court's verdict. Mario Costeja Gonzalez stumbled to an auction notice of his reclaimed home while doing a Google search about his name. The notice was an archived version of a newspaper. As a next step, he filed complaints against both Google (Spain) and a major Spanish daily that had published the auction notice in 1998.

If the reports were true, there were a total of 180 cases filed in Spain against Google Inc. for similar reasons. Google responded back stating they are very surprised by the court's verdict and the company will take time to weigh the implications. But according to The New York Times, Google will release a "link removal tool" by the end of this month.

To request Google to remove links, here are the steps:

1. Readers who live outside Europe can go to this link - (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals)

2. In the "Enter URL of outdated content" text box, enter the URL/link and click on the "Request Removal" button.

Now, the "removal request" will be listed on the bottom of the page. Users can check the status of their request under "Status" column against the request. Removing a link from Google listings/search results does not remove the page from the Internet. Remember that the same link/content will be visible in other search engines like Bing or Baidu, etc.

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