Google agrees to provide ‘Right to be Forgotten’

Google has launched a service to allow Europeans to ask for personal data to be removed from online search results.

It will now be possible for Europeans to request Google for the removal of their personal data from online search results. The move comes after a landmark European Union court judgment in May 2014, which gave people the “Right to be Forgotten“.

What is the ‘Right to be Forgotten’?

Links to “irrelevant” and outdated data should be erased on request. It would assess each request and balance “privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information“.

It is a latest term which came out of a ruling of a European Court which was adjudicating over a case in which a Spaniard named Mario Costeja Gonzalez had   argued that some of his old personal information put up on the internet 16 years back continue to appear in search results even today which, according to him, damages his reputation. Around 16 years ago when he was facing financial difficulties he had put up a property of his for auction – the details of which were covered in a newspaper, which subsequently went online. The auction happened in 1998, and with those troubles now behind him, Mr Gonzalez now wants to move on. But the old details on internet still hound him. Whenever you search for his name, news about the auction still features prominently. He argued that it should be removed from Google’s search results. The Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union agreed with him, and in doing so set a major precedent over what is referred to as the Right to be Forgotten“.

What next?

Following this ruling Google has made available ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Form which a person in EU can fill to request the search engine to prevent his/her unwanted personal information from appearing in the search results.The EU has been crusading for a new law on data privacy – of which “right to be forgotten” is a key component – since it proposed guidelines in January 2012. It argues that old, inaccurate or even just irrelevant data should be taken out of search results if the person involved requests it.

Does ‘Right to be Forgotten’ allows a person to request any of his information to be removed from the Internet?

No. Decisions on whether information should be removed from search engines depend “on the nature of the information in question and its sensitivity for the data subject’s private life and on the interest of the public in having that information, an interest which may vary, in particular, according to the role played by the data subject in public life”. It means the information would only be removed if the impact on the individual’s privacy is greater than the public’s right to find it.

As per guidelines, removal of information in the current context doesn’t mean deletion of information. They just wouldn’t appear in search results.

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Categories: Science and Technology Current Affairs - 2017

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