Google will soon have to start allowing European users to remove information about them they don’t wish to see in a landmark victory for human privacy. The ruling was made when a Spanish man went to court wishing to remove a sixteen year old newspaper article saying his house was auctioned off after failure to pay taxes. The European Union, who holds dominion over 28 countries in the continent, stated that users had a right to demand the removal of information and had “a right to be forgotten”. While many were happy with the decision, Google stated the loss was a “disappointment” and other activists for the internet are worried about the implications this new law can have.

While this will come as a relief to many for obvious reasons, Businessweek says internet activists worry this ability to delete will allow for information the public has a right to know to be removed. Emma Carr, head of the British Big Brother Watch puts it eloquently…

“The principle that you have a right to be forgotten is a laudable one, but it was never intended to be a way for people to rewrite history,”

If you are famous enough to make it on the internet for something you did, chances are it was a very large mistake that would be relevant to people you interact with in life. In the case of the 16 year old bankruptcy article, I can see where the man would want that removed, but at the same time do you remove the other guy who may have a long history of bankruptcy, no matter the time stamp? The issue is more complex and will require a case by case basis meaning more money and manpower Google must use to solve this problem.

While the ruling will require Google to remove the coverage from their search engine, it does absolutely nothing to keep the source from removing or hiding their content. This means content is only hidden unless someone knows to look there, or uses another search engine. Content stricken from Google EU will likely still be available in Google America and other countries that do not fall within the Euro courts jurisdiction. Google is in the process of contesting the ruling.

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