A court case is set for Tuesday in the EU’s highest Court. The matter that will be discussed is as follows:
“If a person fails to pay social security contributions and their house is auctioned off as a result, do they have the right to ask Google to delete such damaging information from search results?”
The claim stems from a Spanish man that searched his name on Google and found a newspaper article stating the above. He now wants to make it his mission to see that Google deletes his personal damaging information along with strengthening privacy laws for all other Europeans.
The court ruled in favor of the Spanish man, however Google has since challenged the outcome in the Court of Justice. There has also been the creation of a new draft law that aims to exercise the “right to be forgotten”, specifically in regards to Google and the Internet.
The way I see it:
The question “when is information really private?” arose quite frequently in accordance with the case. I believe Google is not at fault for that type of ‘damaging’ information being released to the public. If a person commits a felony, such as neglecting to pay social security, they must be aware that the risk that comes with it is public knowledge of the said infraction. When something is big enough to be published in a newspaper, (which, may I remind you, is not considered illegal or a problem for the Spanish man in the case) a person needs to realize the infamous publicity he or she will be receiving. That damaging information will still be out there for the public to access regardless of whether Google deletes the information from their search index. I find it interesting that this man is only going after Google for ‘publishing’ his story; he should really shift his focus to the real problem at hand, the fact that the newspaper published his personal information for the world to see.
It seems to all comes down to the question “is Google the controller or the host?” I would absolutely say Google is simply a host. They did not physically create the damaging information; they merely gave access to an already created document through their search engine. That is what a search engine does–they centralize everything so that information can all be found in one common place. Google cannot be at fault for granting the public access to information that was already in existence for the public to view.
Another favorable point that I see for Google is the matter of whether Google, a company based in the United States that operates under U.S. laws and guidelines, should be subject to EU laws and regulations. It has been proposed that there be a law created to give all European citizens the “right to be forgotten.” The right to be forgotten would give citizens an opportunity to have damaging or personal information deleted, especially in terms of the web. Google defends themselves by stating that they operate in accordance with the “right to free speech” and the new EU law would undeniably revoke the already-created law.
Believe me, if I was the person to discover damaging, public information about myself on the Internet, I would be quite upset and angry as well. However, it comes down to the solid, baseline facts that Google did not create the document themselves, they are simply a host, and they operate under U.S. laws and should not be subject to the violation of European laws.
This is solely my opinion in how the court case should be executed. I am curious to see how other people would react to this article and court case in general. So I ask all of you, what information should actually be Googleable?