Grabbed by the Googles - Privacy Taken to Extremes

It's a bad day to be Google. Especially in Spain, where all hell is about to break loose - the EU Court of Justice have ruled that people should be able to tell Google what they can and can't include in their search results.

The ruling has been made under the guise of data protection, and it only applies to personal data that is no longer relevant - specifically in this case, a 16-year-old property auction brought about by a bad debt.

But it has far-reaching implications, as the court ruled that original publishers of information, such as newspaper websites, do not have to delete out-of-date pages, but that Google must not include them in search results once the information on the page is no longer relevant.

How you define relevancy goes to the very core of how a search engine works - if you're searching for information about whether an individual has ever been declared bankrupt, for instance, should that individual have the right to prevent that information from appearing among your search results?

And how can it be fair to apply this ruling to Google - even if it is applied equally to other search engine operators - while at the same time acknowledging, as the court did, that the website on which the information is published has done nothing wrong and doesn't need to delete or alter the information?

"Om nom nom tasty privacy" - Clancy the Troll, via floodllama

To be honest, this ruling leaves me feeling like I've been wasting my time all these years.

First off, I'm a freelancer - and I do tend to think it's fairly relevant if a potential client has a history of payment problems.

Second, I live a lot of my life online, and I don't think it's right to give individuals absolute power over the search results returned when you Google their name, it undermines net neutrality and sets a frankly dangerous precedent.

Third, I spent five years working in a news agency, and still regularly produce news updates for clients; and I think it is essential that matters of public record, like bankruptcies, should remain publicly accessible even if they are embarrassing.

On top of all of that, the European Commission are describing it as some kind of victory for citizens, as it reinforces the 'right to be forgotten' and gives EU residents a degree of control over their own online reputations.

Well that's all well and good, but a victory for the individual is a defeat for every other EU citizen who might have a legitimate reason to want to know about their past indiscretions.

The fact is, you can't rewrite history, and if you don't want people to think you're a dick, don't sue Google - just don't be a dick in the first place.

Read the full EU Court of Justice ruling here and watch the European Commission press conference below.

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