Europeans may soon get the opportunity to request that Google, Bing and other search engines delete embarrassing links served up from sites across the Web. The European Court of Justice ruled
Tuesday that people have the right to have data about themselves deleted online after a Spanish man brought the matter into court, arguing that Google search results infringed on his privacy.
Google had fought a Spanish court's order to remove links to online newspaper articles in a case that began in 2011, after Mario Costeja Gonzale failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home. The matter had been cleared, but the links continued to exist online.
The ruling applies only to Europe. The only effect it might have on users in the U.S. would be as fodder for future privacy filings. U.S. law enforcement members can request a search engine or Web site remove any personal information pertaining to themselves or their family, but it can take weeks or months to have the information removed.
Google called the European Court of Justice's ruling disappointing, saying that search engines don't control the data, they just link to it. The court didn't agree. The ruling states "an Internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on Web pages published by third parties."
One person commenting in the New York Times report thinks some information should remain private. A.M. Garrett says he was laid off from a company, and a blogger wrote about the layoffs, listing his name. He was later rehired by the same company, but the blogger didn't know that and didn't report on the change. The piece about A.M. Garrett being laid off comes up high in Google's search query ranking. While it's never been an issue, it could become one when searching for his next job. Thank goodness for LinkedIn.