Google will now let its users in the EU remove certain information from coming up in public searches, after a recent legal case ruled that people had the “right to be forgotten”.
The move now means that users can fill in the form on Google’s website which will allow them to have links to any irrelevant or outdated information erased from search results. Cases will be assessed on an individual basis, depending on the sensitivity of the information and whether it affects someone’s privacy.
Supporters of the new service have welcomed the idea of being able to remove private information from Google results, as it might misrepresent people by displaying information that is no longer relevant to their character. For example, the majority of removal requests Google receives are from those who have been convicted of a crime and don’t want it to affect their online image.
However, there are also plenty of people who oppose Google’s decision. Some fear that it could lead to a stifling of innovation which might prevent the development of the internet. Google co-founder Larry Page gave an interview with the Financial Times where he discussed how he though the new ruling could specifically affect new start-up businesses. Page said: “We’re a big company and we can respond to these kind of concerns and spend money on them and deal with them, it’s not a problem for us. But as a whole, as we regulate the internet, I think we’re not going to see the kind of innovation we’ve seen.”
It remains to be seen how many of the removal requests to Google will actually be followed through. If Google remains pretty strict on how much it deletes from its search results, this might not prove too much of a problem for the internet’s growth. Whether it’s a success or not depends on how Google implements it, which will also determine if we see it being introduced in the US.