Microsoft follows Google with Bing ‘Right to be Forgotten’ requests

Microsoft's Bing search engine is now accepting Right to be Forgotten requests

Microsoft is now taking requests from people who wish to be removed from Bing search engine results after a court judgment in May enforced the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ across Europe.

European residents have been asked by Microsoft to fill in an online form to block the company’s search engine from listing responses related to specific queries.

In a statement to V3, Microsoft explained its move: “On 15 July we launched an online form for residents of the European Economic Area and Switzerland to request blocks of specific privacy-related search results on Bing in light of the recent ruling by the European Court of Justice.”

People who wish to be hidden from Bing need to submit their personal information along with the details of the pages they wish to have blocked via an online form.

However, Microsoft does not guarantee removal of the links as it will need to “consider the balance” between an individual’s personal privacy and the right to freedom of expression and information in the public’s interest. “We continue to work out the details of the process we’ll use to evaluate the requests,” Microsoft told V3.

Back in May, the European Court of Justice ruled that search engine providers must evaluate all requests made by any individuals who wish to be removed from search engine results.

The ruling detailed that, following a request, search engine services would need to remove any information judged to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”. Any refusal or failure to do so could result in a fine.

Search engine market leader Google was the first company to comply with the ruling. Google posted an online form towards the end of May allowing people to request to be removed from its search engine results. Tens of thousands of requests were submitted and the removal of search listings began in June.

With the potential for an overwhelming number of Right to be Forgotten requests made to search providers, there may be some issue of enforcing the law.

As such the European Article 29 Working Party, made up of data-protection representatives from each country, is considering how national watchdogs might monitor search providers’ responses to requests.

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