Page explained that the new ruling, which forced Google to deploy a new webform for removal requests, would damage future technology startups and admitted that Google had been caught unawares by the European court of justice (ECJ) ruling, in an interview with the Financial Times.
“It will be used by other governments that aren’t as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things,” warned Page. “Other people are going to pile on, probably… for reasons most Europeans would find negative.”
Google must 'be more European'
Page expressed that Google was trying for greater engagement with Europe to “be more European” in the company’s approach and thinking.
“I wish we’d been more involved in a real debate... in Europe,” said Page over the ECJ's ruling. “That’s one of the things we’ve taken from this, that we’re starting the process of really going and talking to people.”
Google has traditionally resisted any move that it claims would limit full internet transparency and has been involved in the current debate to preserve net neutrality, but Page admitted that he and the company is now more open to the conflicting issues and an open discussion to reach a suitable balance.
Leveraging the company’s experience of removing links to child abuse material and copyright infringing content, Page said that responding to privacy takedown requests would be nothing new for the Google. But he said that smaller companies, without Google’s means, could struggle to respond threatening their survival and innovation.
Public figures v 'everyday' people
The balance between removing links for “everyday” people and for public figures is a key one for Page.
"Certainly, I worry about the effect that might have on democracy over time if we don’t do that perfectly," he said.
Google has the power to reject a takedown request if it thinks the information is in the public interest, while media companies including newspapers are insulated from the majority of removal requests as most of what they publish is deemed as being in the public interest.
Page praised Europe’s “vigilance” provoked by the NSA revelations which damaged European confidence in US internet companies, saying that the US has “imperfect political and legal systems” and said that having data stored with companies like Google, who have a reputation to protect, is better than storing it in the black hole of government.
Page’s views on Europe and data privacy mark a significant change of tack for the US internet company, something that will be crucial to ensuring the differing attitudes to the internet between north America and Europe do not widen further through increased legislation.
The internet is a global entity and rifts between continents could have a damaging effect on the flow of information that makes the web a tool for education and change.
• Google launches its ‘right to be forgotten’ web webform for European privacy removal requests•Explaining the 'right to be forgotten' – what does it really mean?
• Google’s self-driving car: how does it work and when can we take one for a spin?
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