Thursday, May 15, 2014

Search engines hit hard by court ruling

Facebook: The privacy saga continues
 (Photo credit: opensourceway)

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

A ruling by Europe’s highest court this week may well have serious impacts for online search engines, particularly Google as it’s the predominant search engine used in Europe.The ruling provides Europeans the ability to request that sensitive information about them be removed from Internet search results. 

The case stemmed from a man in Spain who argued that his right to privacy was infringed upon after search engine results revealed details of his home being repossessed and auctioned off. The details came from a story in a local newspaper.

Since the court’s decision, the Internet has blown up with people weighing in on both sides of the issue. Many applaud the court for giving privacy rights back to individuals. Those opposing the decision claim that allowing people to restrict what can be found online restricts free speech.

I can appreciate both sides of the argument. I understand that everyone should have the ability to access a wide variety of information. For many, including me, it helps us do our jobs better. I use the Internet regularly for research. However, I can also appreciate and fully support the right to one’s privacy.

Although slightly removed from my teenage days, I can understand how people in their youth put things on their Facebook page or other social media sites that may seem harmless and goofy now, but that can severely hurt them later as they begin their careers. People sometimes do foolish things, particularly teens, and I don’t feel it’s right to punish them forever. My thought is that people have the right to their privacy and that if they choose to have something about them removed from the searches, they should have that ability.

Having said that, I do feel that legitimate news stories should not be blocked. In the case that led to this ruling, I feel the courts should not have ruled the way they have. It was a legitimate story in a reputable newspaper.

What are your thoughts? Do you think you should have more control over your own privacy on the Internet?

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