In May, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that search engines must remove links relating to European citizens if they are deemed outdated or irrelevant personal information. It is essentially an individuals ‘right to be forgotten’.
Since then Google has stated that it has removed 498,737 links across Europe. Of these 63,616 links, originating from 18,403 UK individuals, were removed; a success rate of 64.6%.
Examples of unsuccessful requests include a:
- former clergy who asked for two links to articles detailing an investigation into sexual abuse accusations.
- "media professional" requesting the removal of four links to articles reporting on "embarrassing content he posted to the internet",
- doctor’s call for the removal of 50+ links to newspaper articles about a botched procedure. In this case personal information (not detailing the procedures) was removed, but, "the rest of the links to reports on the incident remain in search results" said Google.
“Great distress and upset”.
“I now have 3 children,”
Last week we received a ‘right to be forgotten’ email request to remove a page from our website.
The page detailed a newspaper interview the lady in question had given several years ago, detailing her breast augmentation surgery that had increased her bust to a very large (unnatural) cup size. At the time she was happy with her decision and very vocal about it, but things had changed.
In her email she stated that the information now in the public domain (news, articles and blog sites) gave her “great distress and upset”.
“I now have 3 children,” she stated. Motherhood adding both weight and urgency to her desire to get the information removed.
We immediately complied with her request, removing all information by which she could be identified.
The incident made us realise how the internet has made it much more difficult for individuals to put past mistakes/embarrassing episodes behind them.
It is always prudent to think carefully before doing something that is irreversible or difficult to change. This is particularly true when considering significant changes e.g. body modification. Avoid making these types of decisions during times when you are highly emotional or feeling pressurised in someway.
Take all the time that you need to carefully evaluate the reasoning behind your decision; always bearing in mind that the current situation could (and in all likelihood will) change in the days, months and years ahead.