Freedom of information and the right to privacy has become an increasingly prominent topic in the national discourse. In fact, it has become an important issue on a global level. In the middle of 2014, the European Court of Justice made what at the time seemed to be a massively impactful ruling. It decided that individuals had the right “to be forgotten” by the internet. More precisely, individuals could ask Google to remove search results if they were deemed to contain outdated or inaccurate information. Google resists this move because they believe it to be a limitation of the free flow of information. In the end, a compromise was reached.
Google agreed to remove the relevant search results from the European version of the search engine. Under this agreement, and the individual would discover inaccurate or outdated information in a Google search could report the results to Google. The search giant would then deindex the said search results. This would make them unavailable through the European version of Google’s search engine.
This met with the request made by the European Court of Justice. However, intrepid search experts soon found a loophole, a way around Google’s subtle removal of the offending search results; all individuals had to do was perform a search using Google.com, or the American version of the Google.
The European Court of Justice was predictably unhappy with this loophole. In September 2015, CNIL, a French data protection agency ordered Google to remove content not just from the European version of its site, but from sites worldwide.
Google has been resistant to this change.
Hastings & Hastings notes that as the world becomes increasingly digital and information becomes yet even more readily available, similar conflicts are likely to arise across the globe. The matter is highly complex and will likely be a topic for decades to come.
Hastings & Hastings