30 May 2014
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EU Google Search Engine Privacy Ruling – How It Won’t Affect You

EU Google search engine ruling

The principle used to be that once a record about you hits the internet search engines that it was in there forever and you had limited options for covering up embarrassing or derogatory posts. You could hide the data by using SEO based techniques, but removing personal data from Google was impossible for the man on the street.

The EU Google search engine privacy ruling has shattered this status quo, or has it?

What is the EU Google search engine privacy ruling ?

Last month the EU announced the results of a tribunal into whether individuals had the right to remove links that mention them from the internet. With every aspect of our lives now online, Google were receiving hundreds of requests already from individuals, companies and politicians to remove undesirable results.

Now individuals in the EU now have the “right to be forgotten” but when we dig a little deeper into the regulation the practical implications are far from fully defined and likely to have a limited impact.

The ruling allows links to “irrelevant” and outdated data to be deleted upon request from search engine results. This sounds like a huge victory for “right to privacy” campaigners, but the picture becomes clouded once the legal and moral implications come into focus.

Only A EU Based Search Result Removal

It is important to remember that the EU Google search engine privacy ruling will remove links from search but not the internet, they remain on the sites that the offending content relates too. The ruling only applies to the local search engine and not Google.com which means that irrelevant and outdated will always be searchable to the determined user. So even a successful removal from search may not solve the problem for many users.

Will Criminals Be Able To Hide Their Past?

Google estimate that 40% of requests received before this ruling were from those convicted of a crime wishing to remove references in the media from their search results.

Whether criminals will be able to remove listings and media coverage is currently unclear. It  will depend on the EU and Google definitions of irrelevant and outdated information.  The answer given the current mood and legislation in the UK is likely to be no as this would information would be deemed as in the public interest.

Even if minor offences committed a long time ago are removed the public pressure is likely to mean that this will be subjective. There would be a huge uproar if someone convicted of a high profile crime such as those relating to the abuse of children was allowed to remove their search results, so this ruling is unlikely to be a get out of virtual jail free card for convicted criminals.

It is possible to speculate that this ruling could benefit those accused and acquitted of a crime could be accommodated dependent on whether Google ruled it was “within the public interest”

How Does This Affect Me?

In all likelihood this ruling will have no impact upon you or anyone you know, unless you have a huge desire to remove the link to that picture of you out drinking in town, taken five years ago after waking up looking like this.


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