by Marion Marks
It is with great interest that we read the European Union court ruled that Google must allow for “the right to be forgotten” (actual court ruling)” to protect the privacy of individuals who have “amended their history in court.” Our question is, “Does this mean we may no longer be able to find THE TRUTH online? Will Americans now be able to demand that the truth can no longer be published or demanded online? Is there truly an expectation that privacy extends to erasing history?
If this is the case, there will no longer be a need for investigative journalism (what little we actually have!), and what appetite the media has to invest in factually representing the news may fade as paid political advertorials will supplant political news.
We learned this week that the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that people can tell Google, as well as other search engines like Microsoft‘s Bing or Yahoo, to delete links to their outdated information on the Internet. People, the court contends have the right to be forgotten.
People can file requests for information removal directly with the search engine. Search engine parent companies must examine any request to determine if the information in question is still relevant to any public search. If it isn’t deemed relevant, the links to web pages containing that information must be removed, unless maintaining easy access to the information is in the best interest of the public, the court said. Making such judgments will become a full-time operation for many companies in the data business.
With Europe’s top court ordering Google to allow people to basically edit their online personal histories, some wonder what this will mean for finding the truth online. We hope the US legal system will not be burdened with such history rewriting.
It’s one thing to protect privacy for minors, as California has laws to protect from online searches. But once convicted, it’s in an adult’s history. Google may yet challenge the EU court decision. Their official statement was: “We are very surprised that it differs so dramatically from the Advocate General’s opinion and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out. We now need to take time to analyze the implications.”
Without search engines, information about someone’s life would be very difficult to find, and that means people can edit their online lives. Amazing what money can buy! Without a search engine’s help, a lot of information about someone’s life would be very difficult to find.
People would now have the ability to delete the bad or embarrassing and keep the good. They can create their own truth about themselves. History may no longer be anything to do with truth. Legally, history online seems to only be concerned with covering up derogatory or embarrassing information.
Privacy becomes a method to give people control of their data, and it’s really a loss for the openness and transparency. Legalized rewriting of history puts the search engine as the conduit responsible to history writers and not factual data. It gives power to hide links or delete links. People become responsible for all content they want put out on the web about themselves and search engines have to report what is rewritten rather than what was original fact.
The legal system, courts, might be a relief for people who want to wipe away easy access to photos of them appearing drunk, stories about a minor or young-adult arrest or an old lawsuit filed against them that they may have paid to have purged from the legal system..
What it really could mean is that anyone doing legitimate search on someone might not get the full story. Rather they will get the public relations version of the story. In essence, Money can buy you history!
All history becomes open to interpretation! Basically Google and other search engines may no longer able to report facts as they exist. Rather they will report “Facts as they are rewritten!”
We may end up with the internet as people want things to be seem and an underground internet that remembers facts as they actually happened. I seem to remember George Orwell writing about this…
note: The seemingly little rise the public has shown for ethics violations may give new hope for the billionaire purchases in the political arena. And Koch Industries mineral empire may demand that all environmental history be rewritten now that the claim to have finally created “Clean Coal!” Shell and Exxon-Mobil will soon be proclaiming that fossil fuels are the new “Green Energy” and Solar energy really is a pollutant, as every Louisiana citizen knows that we don’t often really deal with bridges that freeze, as the posted signs indicate. We do know the best joke in Louisiana should be the sign that reads: “Asphalt on Bridges May Burn Feet!”