Google getting censored for the right to be forgotten
The EU court has reached a surprising ruling that has taken the entire online community aback – Google will be forced to remove results, which appear to be:
3. No longer relevant or excessive
Even data that was accurate and lawful at the time of publishing can be asked to be removed, if over time it changed its status. What does all this mean for the online arena?
The argument between freedom of speech and the right for privacy, or in this case – ‘right to be forgotten’, is an old one. There are good points to both sides and this discussion is especially vivid in the digital environment, where information is flowing freely and instantly, in all direction.
George Orwell said:
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Jim C. Hines said:
“Freedom of speech does not protect you from the consequences of saying stupid shit.”
Who is going to be affected by this ruling and does the European court need to have a say in such matters? Let’s try to answer these questions.
Online Reputation management
One industry is definitely going to be affected by this new law – online reputation management, which is basically a niche in SEO which focuses on pushing down undesired results by replacing them with controlled results that are actively created and promoted. This entire industry was built on the understanding that once a link makes it to the Google search results page, it’s there to stay until such time when other links push it down to oblivion.
Is this ruling just?
But this is just one niche out of numerous industries that are going to be influenced by this ruling. Just the concept of information being able to be taken away from the public eye is staggering. The offline parallel would be OJ Simpson going to the Times and demanding that they’ll destroy any archived item about his trial simply because he was acquitted.
Another thing that is a bit problematic here is the entire concept of search results, which are supposed to avoid bias by being based on bots and algorithms that don’t care where you’re from and what color or race you are. They only care about code, content, UX and user engagement. Do we really need to add a new human factor to this equation?
One might claim that search engines’ results will always be biased, since the algorithm behind the bots are written by humans and they contain rules which are based on opinions and policies. In this case, having an external factor added to this decision making process is vital for maintaining objective and balanced results.
The Pirating Ruling
This is not the first time the EU has intervened with online search results. Over the past few years different European governments, such as Italy and France issued rulings that held search engines responsible for any pirate content shown on their search results page. This includes Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Opinion leaders and news portals are divided as far as how to regard this ruling. Some say governments should not intervene in such matters, while others are happy to see Google ‘taken down from their high horse’.
Here are some of the top stories about this so far:
- Theguardian.com, Tue May 13. By Alan Travis and Charles Arthur
- Searchengineland.com, Tue May 13. By Greg Sterling
- Reuters.com, Tue May 13. BY FOO YUN CHEE
- Cbsnews.com,Tue May 13.
- Techcrunch.com, Tue May 13. By Steve O’Hear (@sohear)
- Businessinsider.com, Tue May 13. By Lisa Eadicicco
- Foxnews.com, Tue May 13.