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Google is inundated with 12,000 link removal requests on first day

Google has predictably seen an avalanche of link removal requests pertaining to its search engine and the "right to be forgotten", after the company flicked the switch on an official request form back on Friday.

The form went live on Friday morning, following an EU ruling (earlier in May) in favour of a Spanish citizen who wanted links to a past house repossession removed because it happened in the nineties, and he considered the data to be outdated, "irrelevant" and a breach of his privacy to be publicly viewable on Google.

The form allows anyone to submit a request for a link (or links) to be removed if they can explain why the information linked to by Google is "irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate", and they're prepared to submit a copy of a photo ID as proof of their identity.

If there was any doubt that there wouldn't be a huge number of European citizens claiming their right to be forgotten, that's been dispelled by the amount of requests Google received on the first day of the form being live. According to Reuters, that initial twenty four hours saw 12,000 requests coming from across Europe, and later in the day the number was averaging twenty per minute, or one every three seconds.

This will undoubtedly leave Google with a lot of difficult and time consuming decisions to make, having to examine the merits of each individual case, and attempt to balance a person's privacy rights against whether there's a public interest to know about said information.

Raegan MacDonald, European policy manager at Access, a digital rights group, told Reuters: "Companies should not be tasked with balancing fundamental rights or making decisions on the appropriateness, lawfulness, or relevance of information they did not publish."

Many are calling this nothing less than censorship of the Internet, including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, who said the EU judgement was "one of the most wide-sweeping Internet censorship rulings that I've ever seen".

Representatives drawn from the EU's 28 data protection authorities are due to meet next week to discuss the exact implications of the ruling, and it'll certainly be interesting to hear their thoughts.