In modern times, privacy and security on the internet is a pressing issue. This has been highlighted by Google’s “right to be forgotten” laws recently being passed in Europe, giving Europeans the chance to prevent personal details from being indexed on Google.
The right to be forgotten was mandated by a European court, enforcing rules that Google should remove search results pertaining to individuals if that individual requests it information to be removed. This could be for many reasons, for example if the information is outdated or inappropriate. Whilst the decision drew controversy, it’s certainly proved popular, with more than 1 million URLs submitted for removal since last May, with 41% of them ultimately removed.
This move will certainly help to improve privacy in an age where we expect practically every aspect of our lives to be available on the internet, although at the moment the law currently only applies in Europe. However, a consumer advocacy group is now looking to have the same law implemented in the USA.
Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer advocacy group, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in the US, asking for an investigation into why Google didn’t implement these rules across America too. John Simpson, the privacy project director of the group, argues that championing user privacy whilst not offering the right to be forgotten is deceptive, and that the right to be forgotten is an important privacy option. Consumer Watchdog argues that it’s an unfair business practice to decline the deletion of these results for American residents.
Whether or not the rule will be implemented in the USA remains to be seen, but this story demonstrates how important it is that online information should be relevant, correct and up to date, both on social media and elsewhere.