Google recently lost an appeal to the European Union’s highest court and we’re all very much involved. The complaint against the search giant came from a plaintiff who did not wish to be found in a search. Google, in the business of searching, declined to delist the complainant and that produced the lawsuit. Google lost the final appeal.
The EU Court discovered the existence of a: “right to be forgotten” in European law. From what we can see, the right has never existed anywhere until the EU Court discovered it, but judges have been discovering new things for a long time, right?
But this is no small discovery. If you come from a generation that had to visit the library to look things up, you can appreciate the blessing of the search box on browser screens. That blessing depends upon links, little connections that take you from one data point to a related one until you find the one you want. Google and Bing and others supply those links. Without them, a given data point would never be found for you. And the EU Court has told Google that it must remove the links that lead to anyone who wants them removed. Who wants to rely on a search service that has to hide anyone who requests it? And those folk who prefer to remain invisible want the decision extended worldwide. Doing that seems likely to devalue the search business to the point of near uselessness.
Google is not taking this lightly; it is fighting hard, as it must since its search services are at stake here. With the EU now on record against Google, its fight must be seen as uphill at best. Such governments as China and Russia seem unlikely to defend Google; they want to control such things as what turns up on searches of the Internet. But they are search users too, big time users in fact. Perhaps we’ll end with two Googles … one for you and me and another for ‘approved users.’
You may wish to keep an eye on this; you’ll have noted that your media haven’t thought it very newsworthy. Those guys don’t like to disturb their government friends. It seems likely that, unless a lot of folks make a considerable fuss, the days of unlimited search available to all may be sliding into history.