When Google announced plans to grant user’s wishes to remove content from search engines, it was met with opposition. Some say it will lead to companies choosing to remove any content that might portray them in a negative way, in effect ‘censoring’ content from the public. It has now been announced that Microsoft and Yahoo join Google in ‘Right to be Forgotten’.
The controversy comes as there is a blurred line between what should be removed from search engine results and items that should be available to the public. The criteria for search engine exemptions include “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data, so if a member of the public puts forward a query stating one of these, Google, Microsoft and Bing now have to delete it. The ruling came about back in May when the Court of Justice of the European Union who stated that such data is to be removed from search engines. This only applies within the EU at present, but talks are ongoing to extend its reach.
The tricky part is towing the line between protecting individuals privacy whilst keeping the internet’s freedom and expression in shape. Companies now have the power to remove such items that may cast a negative light. For example if someone writes a bad review of a service then a company could easily place a request ‘right to be forgotten’ and the offending item will be gone. Likewise at least it is a way for content on the internet to be regulated to a certain degree and if something no longer holds true or relevant it can be omitted from search engines. Only time will tell if this ruling will prove useful or merely censoring what the public might see.
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