[Article Updated] 6/21/2014
Imagine one day your searching for information about a charity in Europe and then the next day, after bookmarking the link, you found the website was not there. Then using a special process to get back to the website, you found it again. Curious as to why that is, you decide to conduct a few searches on different search engines, a few show up but none on Google anymore. Why is that?
European Counts have now ruled that, at the request of individuals or companies, Google must take down any links to any content that violates privacy protection. So what if your a company that doesn’t have any physical presence in Europe but its services are used by Europeans? The courts follow the parent company must comply with it’s rules. This can create a very confusing and complex legal situation for all global companies.
The fact now that the European courts are forcing restrictions on the free-flowing stream of information found on the internet will only have a negative impact on users, not a positive one. Their attempt to control and protect European consumer privacy protection at the cost of global citizens shows their lack of understanding about the internet. Many websites, online content, and social media accounts are in jeopardy if just one person feels their privacy was violated. This might be the dark ages of progress for Europeans who use the internet if one person cry’s fowl just because their feelings were hurt; causing harm to millions of others who might use that information for different purposes.
The other side to this situation is that the courts gave no guidance as to how each country will handle this ruling, leading to even more confusion all around. But who is to say that someone’s rights were violated, what if they are just trying to cause trouble? There is no other side to dispute it, meaning, once someone requests content to be taken down because of privacy violation, there is no one on the other side to check if that was true or not.
The logistics of handling such a large amount of requests will force Google to open more offices just to handle the large amount of applications they will receive on a daily basis. Instead of determining whether this decision was right to follow through with, it will create an underground economy on the internet of hiding information. Just because it doesn’t show up in the results field of a search engine doesn’t mean it’s not on the internet, the search engine just isn’t allowed to show the fair and honest results. Various methods can be used to access websites that have been removed from Google, and other search engine, databases.
After the ruling against Google took place millions of Europeans have since sent in requests to Google to have their content removed citing the very court ruling in their request. This has created a whole new problem for search engine providers because of the complexity of the issue. On the one hand, people who need access to that information to make a balanced decision should have that right whereas those who are just requesting their information to be taken done just because is not a valid enough answer.
The right to be forgotten should not be entirely left up to the individual unfortunately how American’s vs European’s understand personal privacy is very different. Europeans believe they have a right to their image to represent their honor and social standing but why should they have that right if their digital life shows otherwise?
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