Following a ruling by a judge in the European Court of Justice, Google has implemented a form that protects people’s “right to be forgotten”. But the tech company isn’t very happy about it, and they aren’t bothering to hide that fact.
Originally, the ruling was based around a complaint by a Spanish man who says he found a newspaper article about his home being seized from more than a decade ago. It brought up the question of how long such information should be available, and how much control people should have over such details.
The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and Google was ordered to create a request procedure that would remove certain search results from their engine. This does not remove the internet page in question, which Google has flatly refused to accommodate. Perhaps rightly, they worry that certain stories and information could be removed simply because the person in question doesn’t like the way it makes them look.
It is true that this kind of precedent could potentially be abused. But at the same time, information from long ago in someone’s life could be used to discriminate or harass. Some may even be false.
Both co-founder and executive chair Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt have been open about their dislike of the ruling. Nevertheless, the form is now up, and people can begin requesting search results be removed
However, it is not as easy as just throwing out a complaint. You have to prove that you are who you say you are, or have a proper relationship to the person who you are requesting on their behalf. The law only applies to those within EU countries.
You also have to provide a “reasonable explanation” as to why you want the page removed. Google’s removal team will have the final say, before sending it off to relevant protection agencies, removing the link, and informing the webmaster hosting it when and why the link was removed from results.
Only a percentage of the links will be removed, as per the specifics outlined in the law. It is safe to assume that Google will not be looking to remove any links that don’t strictly fall under regulation, given how upset they are about having to do so in the first place.
You have a collision between a ‘right to be forgotten’ and a right to know, Eric Schmidt explained.
From Google’s perspective, that’s a balance. Google believes, looking at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong.
I am of two minds. I feel for people who want their info removed, and I agree they should have the right. But at the same time, I understand why Google would be eager to fight against potential censorship occurring as a result. It is a fine line to have to walk, but ethics in such matters have yet to be strongly affirmed in the wake of such rapidly changing technology.