Daily Dispatches

Europeans win the right to internet amnesia

"Europeans win the right to internet amnesia" Continued...

Facebook, a California-based social media company, ran into that conflict in 2011, when German regulators warned its website’s automatic photo-tagging feature ran afoul of European privacy laws, which require that users be allowed to opt in to such features. Facebook required them to opt out. A year later, the company avoided a fine by deleting facial recognition data for all European users.

Critics worry the “right to be forgotten” could force companies like Google to play the role of censor, or allow convicts to delete references to past crimes and allow politicians to airbrush their records.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, the policy director at Open Rights Group, a London-based digital rights advocate.

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., currently recommends people who want information removed from search results ask individual websites to take down the original pages, which will disappear from Google search results soon after. On a case-by-case basis, the company may fulfill requests to remove search results that could expose a person to financial fraud, like a social security number or an image of a signature.

But Google will not remove search results for a phone number, address, or date of birth posted online.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Daniel James Devine
Daniel James Devine

Daniel is a reporter for WORLD who covers science, technology, and other topics in the Midwest from his home base in Indiana. Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanJamDevine.

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