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US stock market daily report (May 30, 2014, Friday)

June 2, 2014, Monday, 05:19 GMT | 01:19 EST | 09:49 IST | 12:19 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders

European citizens can now request to erase unflattering information from search results on Google Inc. (GOOG-Nasdaq), effective late Thursday. The action is a result of a landmark ruling issued two weeks ago by the highest court in Europe, against Google.

Citizens in Europe, interested in having objectionable links removed from Google search, can access a web form on Google and process a request to have information removed, that meets criteria to be removed. A concern of Google was that people would use the request to hide negative information, that would be important for other citizens. The ruling does not mean the information itself must be removed - just the link in search results.

The concern remains that the decision gives Europeans a way to polish their online reputations by petitioning Google and other search engines to remove potentially damaging links to newspaper articles as well as to other websites containing embarrassing information about their past activities.

A Google spokesman said, "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."

While evaluating requests for information to be removed, Google will consider whether the results include outdated information about a person and whether there is a public interest in the information online such as in cases of professional malpractice, criminal convictions or the public conduct of officials.

The decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) places Google on a slippery slope as they strive to interpret the EU's broad criteria for "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant" information. Free Speech advocates voiced their concerns that the ruling paves the way for rich or powerful individuals and criminals to remove information about them.

Google processes 90% of all web searches in Europe and holds the title as the world's most dominant search engine. Europe maintains the worlds strictest data protection laws. The European ruling creates a divide between search results about people spanning a 32-nation swath in Europe, versus the same search around the rest of the world. Over 500 million people live in the area affected by Google's potential purge of personal information from its European search results.

An advisory committee has been convened by Google to work through details establishing guidelines of removing qualifying links. The group includes: Eric Schmidt - Google Executive Chairman, David Drummond - Google chief legal officer, Luciano Floridi - information ethics philosopher at the Oxford Internet Institute, Jimmy Wales - Wikipedia's founder, Jose Luis Piñar - former director of Spain's Data Protection Authority, Peggy Valck - privacy rights activist and director of the University of Leuven law school and Frank La Rue - special United Nations representative specializing in free speech.

Another team of Google employees will sift through the potential thousands of requests to remove personal information from search results and the same team will decide which have legitimate grievances that should be honored under the European court ruling.