If you have once sworn at Google to one day force the search giant to remove your personal data from its results pages, your lucky day might be forthcoming.
A landmark decision issued by the European Union’s highest court has ruled that data about individuals held by Google must be deleted on request. This means Google will be barred from connecting search requests to pages containing confidential data about an individual who wants that piece of information hidden.
However, that does not necessarily remove the content from the Web, only the link. So expect your information to be accessible somewhere else, say, Yahoo.
The European Court of Justice calls it the right “to be forgotten” for individuals to have control in which information pertaining to them should be available online and which should be deleted, especially those data that may harm their reputation or are no longer relevant.
Speaking of rights, the ruling has created factions between proponents of free expression, who slam the ruling for stifling free speech and transparency, and privacy advocates who are calling on Google to respect their online privacy.
The idea for the verdict is that individual users must be able to control their information and have the power to ask Google in this case to remove the data that they deem inappropriate to be found online.
However, Google could refuse to remove the links to Web contents that have particular bearing on the public interest. That applies to the data of celebrities and politicians, whose data are impossible to completely hide online.
The EU court’s decision also sparked some fears that it could to online censorship in the future when search engines are compelled to delete links to legitimate information that is of great importance to the public. Who knows? It might expand to include social media.
As of now, the legislation only allows users to ask Internet giants to remove their data from the search results, but not from the public domain. It is also a sort of security measure to protect valuable credentials amid the rise of data breach incidents as the threat landscape continues to evolve.
On a positive note, the decision is expected to regain confidence from users for online services such as social networking and email which have been beset recently by data hacking. People will acquire the realization that they are in full leverage of their data.
If companies fail to respond to user requests, they will definitely have their day in court.