After privately “seething” after a European Court of Justice order to force search engines to allow people to individually opt out of search engine results, Google Inc (GOOG) (GOOGL) has obliged the government’s request, a BBC report says.
Google allows opt out with conditions
Two weeks following the court ruling, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) has offered a mechanism for people to opt out of the protracted reach of their search engine information spiders, according to a report by the BBC. In private, the report says Google expressed concern regarding the logistical burden of removing people from links, but more significantly viewed the ruling as a form of censorship and freedom of speech. These concerns are juxtaposed to privacy advocates who note with alarm how a digital surveillance state is establishing a frightening power first captured in George Orwell’s book 1984.
Mechanics for opting out of Google’s search engine spiders
To appease EU authorities Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) added a form on their web site that allows users to request links about them be removed, but has placed restrictions on link removal. Information regarding financial fraud, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials will not be removed. The form requires Google users to not only identify the links which should be removed, but also to explain why they should be removed, indicating a human review and decision process on each link request.
Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) says it will “attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information.” However, privacy advocates are not so sure.
The BBC reports that privacy campaigners say Google’s measures do little to provide the private individual who does not want their entire identity defined by a search engine even a some small measure of control. “In the ongoing battle between Europe and America over the balance between privacy and freedom of expression, this is one case where the European view has prevailed, for now,” the report concluded.
The BBC noted that it was an American writer, Dave Eggers, who painted a dystopian future in his book “The Circle” that has shaped the privacy debate in Europe. In the book, a megalithic technology corporation persuades the world the more information shared the better. In this future, tiny video cameras are everywhere allowing the technology company to broadcast everything. “Secrets are Lies, Sharing is Caring, Privacy is Theft,” is the mantra of the technology company.
“American web superpowers, from Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR), have acquired enormous power over our online lives, and those who have worried about that have often been told that resistance is pointless in a web with no borders,” the BBC report said. “So today’s move by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is some evidence that if society decides it isn’t happy with the idea that privacy is theft, it can do something about it.”