The “Right to be forgotten” court ruling in the European Union takes place this week. From now on, anyone will have the right to ask Google to remove content. The specific details have not yet been decided; so far around 1,000 people have already requested to be “forgotten by Google”.
It is unclear if it is just content about a specific person, and if there are there any cases in which a person does not have the right to remove content, e.g. convicted, cyberstalkers or pedophiles. What has been made clear is that it is completely up to Google to decide if content will be removed. When rejected an individual still has the opportunity to go to court in one of the EU states. It is expected that Google will soon collapse under the requests to remove links from their SERPs.
However, underlying sources like newspapers or blogs are not required to remove content from their site. As a consequence the content can still be found when searching for more generic keywords and non specific names. These rulings will only have an impact on EU Google pages.
EU court statement on the public interest and the right to be forgotten:
“However, inasmuch as the removal of links from the list of results could, depending on the information at issue, have effects upon the legitimate interest of internet users potentially interested in having access to that information, the Court holds that a fair balance should be sought in particular between that interest and the data subject’s fundamental rights, in particular the right to privacy and the right to protection of personal data. The Court observes in this regard that, whilst it is true that the data subject’s rights also override, as a general rule, that interest of internet users.”
You can find a summary of the EU court’s decision and the rationale behind it here.