Posted on
May 15th, 2014

The “Right to be forgotten” law will be fresh in the mind of Google for quite some time

It was ruled yesterday by a top EU court that Google must amend some of its search results at the request of the every-day public in what is set to be a test of the “right to be forgotten” law – a law which states that “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” information about an individual must be deleted if the person the information is about was to request it.

The test-case privacy ruling was originally made in Spain and was brought against Google Spain by a Spanish man known as Mario Costeja González.  Mr. González was unhappy that his name could simple be “Google’d” to bring up information about an auction notice of his repossessed home dating back to 1998 – an article of which originated from a mass-circulated newspaper in Catalonia.

The law has been welcomed by some and attacked by others such as the UK’s Ministry of Justice, who claim that the law “raises unrealistic and unfair expectations”.

It is believed that whilst the law may work in theory, it would be hard to put in to practise to decide what should be pulled from the internet when people request it and what should be denied deletion – both sets of circumstances are bound to pose a different set of problems if and when they ever arise.

The implementation of these plans comes as part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the commission’s 1995 Data Protection Directive – a directive set out before the Internet was even on the horizon for law-makers and what some believe is way over-due a revamp.

In addition to search engines, Internet Service Providers and many other businesses online will have to comply by the new law – something which will likely be extremely hard to monitor and maintain.

One thing is certain and that is that this law raises more questions than it will give answers – a point made by Campaign Group, “Index on Censorship” who stated that it simply “allows individuals to complain to search engines about information they do not like, with no legal oversight” and that it was “akin to marching in to a library and forcing it to pulp books”.

We are likely to see many changes similar to this in the future which will see the internet’s infrastructure turned on its head.  Privacy of data and the rights to information about yourself and others pose many problems and cause many more problems for search engines, and whilst information about everyone and everything becomes more readily available at the press of a button, the laws and lawsuits surrounding these will be ready will, in-turn, be ready too.

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