Google’s Reaction to the Right to be forgotten

Google have launched their response to the new EU ruling regarding the ‘ Right to be forgotten ‘, as reported in last week’s article.   A service has been setup allowing European citizens to request that their personal information is removed from Google’s search results.

Users requesting their data is removed for the ‘ Right to be forgotten ’ need to provide the following details:

-Weblinks to the material they want removed

-The name of their home country

-An explanation as to why the links should be removed

-Photo identification to ensure that the applications are not fraudulent.

When assessing the ethics of the EU ruling, the main issue is balancing the privacy of the individual with the right of the public to be aware of worldly affairs.  With this in mind, Google has stated that, “When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information.” In other words, they are hinting that they are considering each individual application carefully, weighing up the ‘greater good’ or perhaps just the lesser of two evils.  Google’s mantra is ‘do no harm’.

As the ruling is from the European Union, the information will only disappear from searches made in Europe.  There may be a problem here too, as using apps such as Google Chrome’s ‘Hola’ app allow internet users to access websites as if they were in a different continent.  This enables them to access articles that European citizens cannot.  Will Google ban other applications like this?

Whether information should be removed or not is entirely subjective.  With Google responding to the ruling in such a way, and becoming responsible for deciding individual cases, it appears that it is completely unworkable.  Already there have been 12,000 requests from web users for various articles to be removed.  What will Google base their rulings on? How will an individual respond to objections? With legal force?

Living in an ever changing world, surely we should have the right to information which is already out there, how will employers be sure of the identities and reliability of potential employees? If Europeans can now restrict their online data, who says that the rest of the world won’t follow?

lock pattern with tablet showing security issues