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Google Navigates a Euro-Regulation Minefield

Google is the most dominant search engine in the market. Given this lofty position, the company frequently comes under fire from regulators and consumer advocacy groups. Most recently, governments across Europe have been fencing Google behind new barriers, from the recent ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling, to Germany’s eye on Google’s supposed monopoly.

Since the European Court’s ruling in May, Google has been forced to remove specific web pages from its search results. To have a search result removed, users need to demonstrate that the page listing is inaccurate or it invades the users’ privacy by exposing information they would rather remain private.

Forget.me, which promises to handle your Google removal requests efficiently, has already processed more than 40,000 requests. The company provided The Guardian with data on some of the common reasons for asking to have links removed. Of 1,106 submissions, more than 300 dealt with “invasion of privacy,” 66 noted “negative opinions” or “redundancy.” The final category of note was “origin, nationality or ethnic identity.” Income and gender identity were also present at lower rates.

However, this move hasn’t been universally accepted as good. HiddenfromGoogle.com serves to archive results as content is removed from Google. Motherboard staff writer Jason Koebler notes, there are many with a malicious interest in censoring information from search results.

As Google contends with the new regulation, Germany may be interested in further sanctions. European officials and consumers are more aware that Google may be acting as a monopoly, and crowding out European companies, according to VentureBeat. As a result, the German government is considering regulating Google like a public utility.

Sometimes regulation is a blunt tool that leads to imperfect results. As European countries impose more rules, Google will have to find ways to adapt.

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