Have you ever looked up your name in a search engine and found something embarrassing or upsetting? As of May 13th, 2014, you’re able to request to delete that information. And if the search engine believes the information infringes on your privacy, it will be deleted. If not, then you’ll have to go to court and sort it out.
The European Union Court of Justice ruled that Google, as well as various other online search engines, must comply with requests to delete search results if those results infringe on an individual’s privacy. The ruling requires search engines to remove the search results to online information; however, the actual information will not be removed. And the search engines will be responsible for reviewing each individual request to further evaluate whether or not the information infringes on privacy.
While Google wasn’t particularly pleased with the ruling, it would be more than welcome for those who have been waiting to remove information about themselves for years. For example, Mario Costeja, a man in Spain, complained about an auction notice of his repossessed home, which continually showed up in search results even after the auction was resolved. And that’s just the beginning – over 180 similar cases have occurred in Spain alone.
Although the ruling is a huge step for our privacy rights, it brings significant implications, such as:
- Each individual request must be reviewed and evaluated by search engines: Search engines will be required to review and evaluate requests, which will be extremely time-consuming.
- Some legal notices are required by law to be publically available: For instance, houses that are auctioned off as part of a legal proceeding are required by law to be publically announced.
- The public deserves to learn about situations or individuals that impact society: Consider a medical professional that was convicted of malpractice or a predator that was convicted of sexual assault – the public deserves to know about these situations.
But there’s always incorrect, defamatory, or illegal information on the Internet. And Google, along with other search engines, does believe individuals have a right to delete this type of information. However, Google’s Head of Free Expression, William Echikson, explained: “Search engines should not be subject to censorship of legitimate content for the sake of privacy – or for any other reason.”
To learn more about the ruling, give us a call at (770) 321-5532 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cohn Consulting Corporation can help you stay up to date on how the ruling impacts Google and other search engines’ policies.
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