We now live in a world where nothing is gone forever. If something happens on the Internet
, it's there for eternity, and it can shape images and reputations like no other medium can. That's troubling, and the European Union thinks it's troubling enough to ask Google to do something about it. Starting this week, the search giant will start to remove search results as a part of the EU's "Right To Be Forgotten" ruling. It was a landmark case that enabled citizens to fill out a form to request removal of search results that were popping up when Googling a user's given name.
Emails from Google
are starting to flow to citizens who have requested to be removed, with a spokesperson saying: "This week, we're starting to take action on the removals requests that we've received. This is a new process for us. Each request has to be assessed individually, and we're working as quickly as possible to get through the queue."
Google has thus far reacted quite quickly to the original ruling, but it remains to be seen if it'll be Johnny-on-the-spot for the foreseeable future. It's obviously extra overhead for Google, and thus far it has received over 40,000 removal requests. For as great as this is for privacy, some suggest that it could become a thorny issue as it relates to free speech. Moreover, Google is only removing results on its European pages, so if you Google these same names in the United States, the results still show up.
We're pretty sure this story is far from over. It's a prime example of the new, digital problems that our society is still grappling with, and we're certain that even more will crop up as the Internet evolves. Remember, the world wide web is extremely young in the grand scheme of things, and we're apt to see many more questions (and hopefully, solutions) as it matures.