New Google tool could soon let users nuke unwanted search results

Google privacy opt-out
Disappearing act

If you've ever Googled your own name, chances are there were one or more results you wished never existed. Thanks to a recent ruling by a European court, users may soon be able to actually wipe their internet slate clean.

Computerworld reported Google is working on an online tool capable of deleting outdated or unwanted internet search results in response to a court ruling handed down last week in Europe.

The May 11 decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union found that Google and other search engines can be forced to remove links to out-of-date information, should the user specifically request it.

Once requested, companies like Google will then have to determine whether the search results in question are relevant, and if not, they must be rendered unavailable at least for European citizens covered by the court ruling.

Secret shame

According to Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection Johannes Caspar, the proposed system would introduce one or more authentication methods to stem potential abuse or "unauthorized" takedown requests.

The report notes Google already offers several "semi-automated tools" for removing sensitive personal information including signatures, ID numbers or bank account details, but will need to expand its reach to include a variety of other data in numerous languages.

"The ruling has significant implications for how we handle takedown requests," a Google spokesman confirmed, suggesting that the "logistically complicated" process may take "several weeks" to implement.

Google wouldn't elaborate on how the new system might work, but for now it appears to be limited strictly to European Union countries whose officials have banded together to create what Caspar called "coherent principles" among data protection authorities there.

  • Speaking of privacy concerns, check out our updated Google Glass review!