The recent ruling against Google dubbed the “right to be forgotten” ruling does not mean that information will be completely removed online. The information is always going to be around. It will just take longer to find it. It begs the question whether there was any point in the ruling or not.
When the European Court of Justice ruled in favor of Spanish lawyer, Mario Costeja, who was annoyed to find information about his debts from 10 years previous was still online. With just one search of his name, the lawyer could find all the negative information that he had hoped would have disappeared by now. The European ruling made it clear that people could request for information to be taken out of the search results.
So far, people in Europe have taken up on this offering, and not all for good reasons. A pedophile and a doctor with a range of negative reviews online have both requested the information is removed from search results. The search giant does not need to approve the request if it is in the internet’s best interests to keep the information up there.
However, asking Google to remove the information due to the right to be forgotten ruling does not completely remove the information from the internet. The newspaper articles, court convictions and negative reviews will still be visible online. It is just harder to find it, but that will not make it impossible. This is something those for and against this ruling need to remember.
Under US law, this type of ruling would act against the First Amendment. In Europe, some have argued that it acts against the freedom of information. However, the European Court states that it is also trying to protect individuals’ right to privacy. There is a common clash between the two of these, and finding a balance can be relatively difficult. The fact that the information will still be visible online, and just harder to find, does not completely remove the freedom of information.
It is like going back 25 years, before the idea of the internet and search engines was such a possibility. Information has always been available, and many will still remember scenes in movies and TV shows where people would go to the library to flick through old newspaper archives. Finding the information could take hours, if not days, back then. Even without Google and other search engines, it will still be easier for people to find the information they need. A quick search on various media outlets and social media platforms will often bring up the results that users would like.
There are arguments that this makes it harder for students, historians and other professionals who use the internet for research. Again, it is just like taking a step back in time to before the internet was even invented. Students and historians then would read through hundreds of books and newspapers before finding the information they needed. The information is just being taken out of Google’s and other search engines’ results, and is not being removed from online completely.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham