Google has hit the headlines this week following a ruling from the European Union Court of Justice which advised that individuals had the ‘right to be forgotten’, and can request information to be removed from the search engine results if it is inadequate or irrelevant.
The ruling comes following a complaint from a gentleman in Spain, who argued that Google’s search results revealed details about his previous issues with debt that occurred over 16 years ago. He argued that as the matter had been resolved it should no longer be linked to him.
The EU court has deemed Google and other search engines as controllers of data with clear responsibility for personal data protection.
Following the initial hearing Google reported the result as ‘disappointing’ - but yesterday advised once it had developed a practical method it would be able to implement the EU ruling within a matter of weeks.
This court ruling is definitely a matter for debate and reminds us that in a World where information is so readily available, the protection of personal data is still extremely important.
Google advises in most of its corporate literature that it aims to create a user friendly experience online through matching the most relevant and useful information to each search query.
The word ‘relevant’, however, reinforces the point of the ruling and suggests - personal data protection aside - that if the information is no longer relevant or useful then why would Google need to link to it?
Conversely, the campaign group Index on Censorship has condemned the court’s decision saying it ‘violates the fundamental principles of freedom of expression’ and is equivalent to ‘marching into a library and forcing it to pulp books’.
What do you think about the EU ruling? How do you think Google will manage this? Would this work for celebrities or public people or would the ‘Streisand effect’ come to fruition, where the attempt to delete certain information may just bring it to the media’s attention?
At Pepperneck we are always interested in Google’s latest developments and will continue to watch this space as the World’s leading search engine implements the ‘right to be forgotten’ ruling in weeks to come.