The right to be forgotten
Following on from my article on Marketing Lens about the European court ruling that has been described as ‘the right to be forgotten’ there has been a huge amount of coverage in the media about what it means. Here are some further observations.
The media is generally describing this as an issue for Google. It’s not just Google, it’s all companies providing search. Perhaps the right to be forgotten should describe any search provider who isn’t Google.
The ruling does not mean that information will be removed from the internet, just that it won’t show up in search. Perhaps this is no different to it being removed from the internet.
The ruling is final, so this is going to happen. This will not just impact stalking but such areas as recruitment, where it has become the norm for people to search job applicants histories online.
The most important detail is this. The ruling excludes situations where the sharing of information (the link) ‘justifies a preponderant interest of the public in having access to the information’. There has been much hysteria about politicians and sex offenders trying to cover up their dodgy past. Google (et al) will probably adjust search so that it doesn’t have to deal with thousands of requests to remove links. However, if it were to be brave and stand firm, forcing people whose history includes certain types of crime or immoral behaviour to take them to court, with all the extra publicity that this would entail, they may find that fewer people try to make them take down links.
This is a very interesting situation in the development of search. It’s going to be very interesting to see how it plays out.