Saturday, October 25, 2014

EU court decision sends Google searching for answers

5/28/2014

The truth will free you, according to Jesus in the Bible, however the same may not be said for much longer in Europe. A European court recently ruled individuals may request negative — albeit true — information about them be removed from online search engines. Whether the information is financial setbacks, business failures, divorce, criminal behavior, domestic violence or even rape — a recent court ruling in Europe will allow people to have that personal information removed from digital search engines.

Soon embarrassing items can be omitted — essentially erased — as if they had never occurred. How nice to have an essential do-over, complete with a reset button. While some people may believe this is a good way to forget about youthful indiscretions, in the process other unfavorable though accurate deeds.

The truth will free you, according to Jesus in the Bible, however the same may not be said for much longer in Europe. A European court recently ruled individuals may request negative — albeit true — information about them be removed from online search engines. Whether the information is financial setbacks, business failures, divorce, criminal behavior, domestic violence or even rape — a recent court ruling in Europe will allow people to have that personal information removed from digital search engines.

Soon embarrassing items can be omitted — essentially erased — as if they had never occurred. How nice to have an essential do-over, complete with a reset button. While some people may believe this is a good way to forget about youthful indiscretions, in the process other unfavorable though accurate deeds.

Google, which handles about 90 percent of online search requests, now has to contend with this selective censorship in an environment that generally is laissez faire. Could the United States establish the same kind of rules? It seems unlikely but perhaps the free speech concepts Americans value aren’t as universal as many people assume them to be.

Many people take for granted that they can look up their new neighbor, coworker, prospective employee or even a date to ensure they are who they appear to be, however the public needs to think about what happens when we can’t do that?

This kind of change would make for the “everything is perfect” kind of profile of a person presented on social media rather than one complete with the warts and mistakes made along the way. People with something to hide will love this court ruling and, no doubt, will advocate for the same in the United States.

Today’s digital environment created a world of how to access and retrieve information rather than one accustomed to remembering information. Soon those with a bad memory in Europe may be on the same playing field as those who used to be able to find those answers at the touch of the computer or smartphone. It will be interesting to see how Google responds to this query and what the virtual answer is for those outside of the EU.

Jeanny Sharp,

Editor and Publisher

comments powered by Disqus