Have you ever wished to take something embarrassing off the internet? Maybe it’s a quote of yours, an article about you, or even unflattering pictures of yourself. In the EU as of last May it is now legal to request certain information to be “Forgotten”. Last year a man named Mario Costeja González won a case against Google which now makes it a search engine’s job to control what search information is displayed. Since then, thousands of requests have been submitted asking google or other search engines to take down unwanted content.
Many cases have legitimate reasons behind the requests such as revenge porn, someone’s political views that are no longer true, or, in Mario Costeja González’s case, results showing misleading information of a person. With every practical case comes many that are downright ridiculous. A man in the Netherlands asked for a picture of himself playing a didgeridoo in a park to be taken down because he thought it was embarrassing (no, amazingly this is not a joke); they actually took it down. Some pedophiles have even requested to have search results of their arrests taken down. Thankfully, these requests were denied.
It is easy to see how subjective the rulings are on each case. According to Peter Fleischer, Google’s Global Privacy Counsel, “The process is still evolving”. Many people criticize that if it is legal to request to remove information in the EU then why is it not the same in the US or other countries? I see this becoming a growing concern globally considering so many people want certain information to not exist. Facebook has also been getting flack on the security of their default privacy controls. Facebook has been accused of selling information of its users to ad agencies. People are becoming more concerned about how people see them online. Personal branding is a term often used today that describes how you control your image. It is getting harder to do that currently when just about anything can be posted to the internet. So after reading this, take a moment to search your name and hopefully the results are not surprising.