Google Considers Right to be Forgotten
On May 13, 2014, the European Union Court of Justice ruled that Google must honor a request to remove specific personal information from their search engine results. Google was not happy with this decision. Now they are planning a series of seven public meetings in Europe to discuss the implications of the ruling.
The May ruling was based on the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive, which states that people have the right to request information about them be removed if it is, “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.” The ruling determined that the EU directive has jurisdiction over Google, that the ruling applies to search engines, and that individuals have the right to be forgotten under the above conditions.
Google claims that as of mid-July, they received 90,000 requests for personal data to be removed from Google searches.
At issue here is the balance between the public’s right to information and the individual’s right to privacy. Further, should an application such as a search engine be an entirely neutral data accessing tool, or does it have a responsibility toward the quality and nature of the information itself?
These issues are now being hashed out in Europe, and will likely have implications for the rest of the world as well.
Google claims the upcoming meetings are meant to be a public discussion to help them adhere to the new rulings, given the large numbers of requests. Critics, however, claim that the meetings are for PR only and have a predetermined outcome.
Still others see the decision by the EU court as part of a larger backlash by Europe against the perception of American tech dominance, with Google as a primary target.