A woman walks past the Google offices near the city centre in Dublin
© Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters
A woman walks past the Google offices near the city centre in Dublin July 8, 2013.Cathal McNaughton
updated 5/29/2014 10:32:03 PM ET 2014-05-30T02:32:03

(Reuters) - Google Inc has launched a service through which European citizens can request that links to what they deem as objectionable material be taken off search results, the first step to comply with a court ruling affirming the "right to be forgotten."

The world's largest Internet search engine, which processes more than 90 percent of all Web searches in Europe, said on Thursday that it has made available a webform through which people can submit their requests, but stopped short of specifying when it would remove links that meet the criteria for being taken down.

Google said it has convened a committee of senior Google executives and independent experts to try and craft a long-term approach to dealing with what's expected to be a barrage of requests from the region's roughly half-billion occupants.

“To comply with the recent European court ruling, we’ve made a webform available for Europeans to request the removal of results from our search engine," Google said in a statement.

"The court’s ruling requires Google to make difficult judgments about an individual’s right to be forgotten and the public’s right to know. We’re creating an expert advisory committee to take a thorough look at these issues. We’ll also be working with data protection authorities and others as we implement this ruling.”

The decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union requires that Internet search services remove information deemed "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant." Failure to do so can result in fines. Google, which began getting requests to remove objectionable personal information from its search engine shortly after the ruling this month, has said it was disappointed by the decision.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has said the ruling created an inherent conflict between the "right to be forgotten and a right to know" - referring to the delicate balance of enforcing the ruling while preserving a stated corporate philosophy of making as much information freely available to as many people as possible. Google added on Thursday that it will work with data protection authorities and others as it implements the ruling.

(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic and Edwin Chan in SAN FRANCISCO and Shailaja Sharma in BANGALORE; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Ryan Woo)

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