Google Struggles with EU Link Removal Requests

The European Court of Justice ruled earlier this week that citizens in its jurisdiction have the "right to be forgotten." With this right comes the requirement that Google and other search engines remove links to information that is irrelevant or no longer relevant. Now that the requirement is in place, Google has received more than 1,000 link removal requests.

Among those who reportedly are asking Google to take down links from its search results are a former British politician and a convicted pedophile. Given the broadness of the European High Court's ruling, almost anyone can request that personal data be taken down, effectively getting rid of their past.

Troubling Situations

The right to be forgotten is a tricky right to provide, as it opens the door for people to scrub away negative things from their past. Since the ruling used the terms "irrelevant" and "no longer relevant," it is hard to tell what sort of data can be removed, since relevancy is determined by context.

Names of individuals who have submitted link removal requests have not been provided but anonymous sources at Google did give an overview of the requests to UK newspaper The Telegraph. So far, a member of British Parliament seeking re-election, an individual convicted of possessing child pornography, and a doctor who received negative reviews online have all made requests, according to The Telegraph.

Individual privacy rights should always be protected but at the same time, there are concerns that the European Union court ruling will have unintended negative consequences to society. Within just three days, more than 1,000 people have asked for links to be removed, and there is no telling how many people will make requests moving forward.

It is concerning to think that someone with a criminal record would be able to have that sort of information...

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