Giving everyone the right to ask for their history to be erased can have a major impact
Although the European Court of Justice has made the decision to force Google and virtually all search engines to remove irrelevant and outdated links from its search results just earlier this week, the Internet giant is already getting flooded with requests.The BBC reports that some of these requests are quite interesting. In fact, they indicate exactly what is wrong with the new decision and the extent of abuse that it can cause.
For instance, one former politician that wants to get back in the game has asked the company to remove links to an article about his behavior in office, obviously thinking that it could damage his chances.
A second case is a doctor who wants to remove negative reviews from patients. Of course, this can have a high impact on the way people perceive this doctor and if he or she feels so strong about this, we can only assume just how “wonderful” the behavior or medical treatment were.
The last case is the embodiment of all that is wrong with the Court’s decision – a man convicted of possessing child abuse images has requested links to pages about his conviction to be wiped. What will this lead to? Everyone around him will be oblivious to his identity, creating a very dangerous environment.
This all started when a Spanish man wanted to have Google remove links to an auction to his repossessed home from back in 1998. He claims that the issue is past him and that the information is nowadays irrelevant.
The European Court of Justice agreed with him and told Google and all search engines that links leading to such content should be removed. If the search engine refused, the court would decide on what should happen.
Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales took Google’s side yesterday, criticizing the ruling and calling it “astonishing.” Free speech advocates have also said that the decision crushes free expression and freedom of information.
Google’s own Eric Schmidt addressed the issue. In a meeting with stockholders, he said that the company believed that the court’s decision did not create the right balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to know.
David Drummon, another Google senior VP, added that the Court did not properly consider the extent of the impact it would have on the freedom of expression, a basic human right.
The public outcry on this decision has just started, and so has the flood of demands for information removal from Google’s search results.