European’s now have a “right to be forgotten”…
Europe is shaking things up when it comes to online privacy, and I like it. I like it a lot. Recently, the EU’s highest court has ruled that citizens can tell Google to remove links to sites containing personal or irrelevant information about them. Europe—the place where stuff happens!
The EU Court of Justice (oh man, that sounds so heroic. Is this where supervillains are tried?) has ruled that all of Europe’s 500 million citizens can essentially tell Google to start deleting links that have personal information on them. This all stems from a case against Google brought on by a Spanish man who wished to have links to reports about past debts he owed taken off Google’s searches. The EU COURT OF JUSTICE(!!!) obliged and said that Google has to honor requests from Europeans about removing links to personal information.
I mean, this is clearly a win for personal privacy—no doubt about it. Being able to say, “Hey, I don’t want that posted about me,” is great; the major issue however is that Google doesn’t exactly own the sites the information is on, just the search results that they show up on. Google argued that if people want that info removed, they should contact the owners of the sites, but the COURT OF JUSTICE (!!!) was all, “Nah, you do it,” after probably shooting lightning bolts from their fingertips.
Another issue is the relevance of the information that is asked to be removed. In the case against Google, the Spanish man wanted to remove the information about a 1998 estate sale to cover his debts, saying that the information is outdated and irrelevant at this point. I mean, he has a point. As a “Regular Joe”, do you really want a newspaper article about a 1998 estate sale to be blasted around the Internet? Who does that help? It’ll be doubtful that they will give in to requests to remove links because someone took a bad picture or something.
On the flip side, be sure to see some abuse from people who just want information removed about them. The slippery slope of all of this is when politics become involved, because you can definitely expect to see some politicians asking for embarrassing or campaign-hurting information to be removed.
While vague in its explanation, the EU ruling on what kind of information and who exactly can ask for a removal is pretty much, “If you’re in the public eye, tough sh*t.”
Also, don’t expect to see this in the US anytime soon. As Time points out, the First Amendment essentially nullifies any request to remove personal information. Google and other entities have just as much a right to link/post/share it as anyone, so there goes that pipe dream. Hooray for US politics and caring about its citizens!
For more information contact Chris L.