The transcripts of the official inquiry into the culture, practices and ethics of the press. More…

It's for any particular page, or for an entire site. The webmaster can choose, at whatever level he or she wants to, to say whether or not something should be indexed in our search results.

But supposing they didn't do that, they published something and they want to retract it, the sort of slowest and easiest option is they just take it down off of their website, and the next time we crawl the website, the next time we visit it, our results will be refreshed and we'll show that it's gone, or that the page has different text now.

Assuming that there's a more urgent need than that to take it down, we offer a public-facing tool that's called the cache removal tool, and I don't think that was in the evidence we submitted but I'm happy to get you the url or a screen shot.

The webmaster can go to that tool, type in the web address, a little more information and click a button and say, "Google, get this out of search results as soon as possible", and we do that, we get it out quickly.

If that, for some reason, were to fail, we have people who can help to accelerate this, because, as I said, it's really important for us to do what webmasters want, to not index them if they don't want to be indexed, and also I would say that for a person who is the victim of defamation or of bad content online, this is by far the best option because it means you've gone to the webmaster, they've taken down the content where it sits, they've solved the problem at its root, and at that point getting it out of Google's index is sort of clean-up.

That's the first scenario.

The second scenario, and what I think that you've heard about here, is if the content is appearing on a website, again a third-party website that Google indexed and has no other relationship with, other than being an indexer, and the individual who is the victim of, say, defamation on that site wants to get it taken down and the webmaster isn't responding, for example, then they can come to Google, using the tool that's called -- I think it's called "removing content from Google", the one we had a screen shot of it in our evidence submission, and that also is just sort of you fill out a form, you name the url, you can tell us which product -- which Google product you're talking about, what the basis is, and click a button and submit it, and that comes in to a team in Mountain View and we review it and we take things down in compliance with UK law.

I should also elaborate that although we think it's sort of best for people to use that site, because it's a very efficient process, it automatically gets added to a queue for review, we really have our ears open everywhere to pick up complaints. So if somebody were to send a paper letter, say, to the UK entity, they would send it to me in Mountain View and we would follow up and apply UK law.

And so that is the mechanism for getting web search removals in the UK.

The final thing I would add there is of course we get complaints that are in the form of somebody saying, "Hey, take that site out of your index, it's defaming me", but what we also get, and what is better, I think, as a policy matter, is people sending us court orders -- not against us, but orders against third parties, saying, "Look, Google, I went to court and a judge looked at the facts of this case, a judge weighed a public interest defence" or whatever other complex questions of law might be raised there, "and the judge said that this is defamatory", and it's our clear policy to honour those court orders and to process removals based on that, and it's very helpful to us because it takes us out of the sort of looking at this "he said, she said" situation.

We submitted in our evidence the Metropolitan Schools case, where Mr Justice Eady discusses exactly this issue, the sort of difficulty of having a technology intermediary confronted with making a decision about a defamation claim.

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