Have you googled yourself recently? It’s pretty terrifying the things people can find. While I have a pretty common name and many other people come up when you search for me, I have a friend who is (as far as she knows) the only person with her name. That means you can find a lot of information on her, including past addresses and more.
Europe’s highest court ruling Tuesday that people have the “right to be forgotten” and can ask Google to remove some sensitive information from Internet search results is “huge,” privacy experts say.
“Individuals now have the ability to essentially go in with a virtual black marker and redact their names,” said Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals. “That changes the game of both search results and the information economy.”
It will “fundamentally change the landscape not only in the field of privacy, but also in the information economy generally,” Hughes said.
The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Bing.
The court ruled that Google, if asked to do so, must amend links to information shown to be outdated or information deemed to be irrelevant.
“If, following a search made on the basis of a person’s name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results,” the judges said in their ruling.
The ruling said that the individual’s fundamental rights override “the economic interest of the operator of the search engine but also the interest of the general public” in having access to that information.
Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.
Google called the ruling “disappointing.”