News · Opinion

Right to Forget

Internet users in Europe can now request Google take down that drunk photo that would usually be cached forever on the inter web. This comes after a court ruling that citizens of the European Union have a right to request personal information obtained from a search result that may be considered embarrassing.

The European Court of Justice announced the ruling in May 2014 and established a website where users could register any complaints related to unwanted personal results. And a backlog has already been reported as so many users have requested information to be removed.

Every request must be individually assessed before Google has to take action. Not all complaints will be considered legitimate as some may not be as criminalizing as users may personally perceive. Under the system, a search for a user’s name should show a warning that some information regarding the user may have been removed because of considerations of privacy.

Google will not remove information when a public-right-to-know outweighs an individual request.

While the ruling and Google’s actions can be fitting in some aspects, overall this sets a precedent. That precedent being people will be less mindful of what they put online because the thought of it being censored will be in there head, regardless of the constraints that Google may place on the legitimacy of a complaint.

This is especially troubling because people may not realize external websites are immune to these results. In other words, only what you search on Google will appear. Going to an external site would not necessarily assure the complaint has been removed.

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