No Universal Right to be Forgotten

Alphabet, parent company of Google, won a legal victory this week. According to The Guardian newspaper, “in a landmark ruling on Tuesday, the European court of justice said search engine operators faced no obligation to remove information outside the 28-country zone. It however said search engines must “seriously discourage” internet users from going onto non-EU versions of their pages to find that information.”

The Right to be Forgotten is a concept that gained legal traction in 2014 when the European Union supported the request of an individual who wanted the search engine to scrub old, unflattering information from showing up in search results. Advocates for privacy argue that individuals should have the option to move on after an unfortunate experience or to be protected from false information that others have posted on line. But digital footprints are not easily swept away, at least not without the help of the big search engines…of which Google is the world leader.

“Google says it has received 845,501 ‘right to be forgotten’ requests in the past five years, leading to the removal of 45% of the 3.3m links referred to in the requests. Although the content itself remains online, it cannot be found through online searches of the individual’s name.”

The Guardian

According to the court’s ruling, “The balance between right to privacy and protection of personal data, on the on hand, and the freedom of information of internet users, on the other, is likely to vary significantly around the world.”

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