A top EU court has ruled that Google must amend search results if individuals request it. This was based on the case of a Spanish man whose house was repossessed and he didn’t want the story to be hanging around for years. Fair enough!
At first glance this seems quite reasonable. Many of us have skeletons in our closets and in some cases, information held on us is innacurate or obsolete. It is therefore quite reasonable that this information should be updated or removed.
Sadly, this just demonstrates a lack of understanding of what a search engine is. The website which publishes, for example, house repossessions, is still allowed to continue, and you will still be able to visit such websites. All it means is that Google will have a massive (and impossible admin task in filtering its results.)
In its judgement on Tuesday, the court in Luxembourg said people had the right to request information be removed if it appeared to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”.
It remains to be seen what the outcome will be. Will it allow companies to remove material from search results that they feel is critical or doesn’t reflect well on them? If the BBC publishes a story and someone complains it infringes their privacy, does Google remove links to that story? Surely, the complaint should be directed to the BBC!