Earlier this month we reported that the highest court in Europe had basically made a ruling which would create a process where people could have things removed from their Google results.
This all came about because someone in Spain felt that their privacies had been violated when sensitive personal information came up in a Google search stemming from information based on that persons home foreclosure.
It looked like there was some headway being made for privacy pundits who are leery of the information that comes up in Google results. Of course many of us, myself included, felt like a move like this may fundamentally challenge the basis of the internet and of course Google.
A new report from the Associated Press suggests that not only will we not see these changes in the US they will be extremely difficult to implement even for those abroad where the ruling affects.
“Americans will find their searches bowdlerized by prissy European sensibilities,” said Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the Associated Press.. “We’ll be the big losers. The big winners will be French ministers who want the right to have their last mistress forgotten.”
While it may seem like an easy task ok the surface, excluding something from Google results is a massive undertaking. Google has spent years crafting their algorithms and basically having some things excluded and others not may be near impossible. For instance someone may have several variations of their name that may appear in different results. Or there’s the possibility that certain text and pages may not be excluded based on how far down a page a name appears or in what context it’s brought up.
“The ruling has significant implications for how we handle takedown requests,” Google spokesman Al Verney said. “This is logistically complicated, not least because of the many languages involved and the need for careful review. As soon as we have thought through exactly how this will work, which may take several weeks, we will let our users know.”
AP suggests that while some of these take down requests will be automated a human being will actually have to have the final say, which in itself provides a margin of error which may not be acceptable to the European high court.
Many believe that if someone doesn’t want something on the internet they have the responsibility to make sure they don’t do something that ends up on the internet.
Outside of the technology behind these requests there’s the fundamental issues including the fact that Google is still just a search engine. Shouldn’t the websites themselves be responsible for responding to these requests themselves? It’s also a huge hindrance on free speech.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been an outspoken critic of the European ruling saying the ruling is a “…technologically incompetent violation of human rights.”