Bing strives to develop 'right to be forgotten' feature

Yes, Bing also has to comply with an EU ruling ordering search engines to honor requests to remove search result links.

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Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Microsoft's Bing aims to follow in Google's footsteps by allowing users to request links to certain search results about them be taken down. However, that task may be easier said than done.

Attempting to address privacy concerns, the European Union in May passed a controversial measure that requires search engines to create a process to honor takedown requests from European citizens, granting individuals the "right to be forgotten." Specifically, users who have issues with certain online information about themselves can ask a search engine to erase the search result links that point to the information.

The decision puts search engines in a tricky situation. How do they create a viable request process, and how do they decide which requests should be honored and which ones should not be?

Google, which was at the center of the European court case, implemented a takedown request process relatively quickly. Microsoft still seems to be chewing on it. In a Bing Help page spotted by Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan, the parent company of Bing revealed there will be a slight delay:

"We're currently working on a special process for residents of the European Union to request blocks of specific privacy-related search results on Bing in response to searches on their names," Microsoft said. "Given the many questions that have been raised about how the recent ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union should be implemented, developing an appropriate system is taking us some time. We'll be providing additional information about making requests soon."

Google already offers an online form through which users in Europe can request the removal of search result links. In its form, Google outlines the court's decision and its own attempt to follow the ruling:

"A recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union found that certain users can ask search engines to remove results for queries that include their name where those results are inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.

"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 ruling only applies to Europe, so the websites of search engines in the US and other regions are off limits. Yahoo also has to play by the new rule but has yet to announce any specific implementation plans.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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