EU Court Ruling Forces Google to Take Down Private Info Results

The top European Court for the EU Union has ruled that Google must take down links that lead to private information if the affected person requests the results be omitted. The implications will shake search engines up and reputation management efforts.

With the recent ruling by a top court from the European Union, Google will be forced to remove indexed pages from their search results page. It has been determined that, for the sake of privacy, if a page contains private information about an individual, he or she can now request the page be omitted from Google and other search engines. While the request functionality has yet to be implemented, the implications of this ruling are already being widely discussed, and they show just how monumental the change could be.
This unexpected and shocking court decision has many in the United States, where the ruling currently has no standing, taking a keen interest in the development. The CEO of SEO Twin Falls said, “The implications of a ruling like this have an impact on consumers as well as search engines serving Europe. Though it doesn’t seem like it, the ripple that this has started could easily become a wave, even in a remote location like Twin Falls, Idaho.” For reputation management firms like his, Pearse added, “It will be interesting to watch what happens with [the reputation management] industry after this comes into play.”

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Google’s Hand Forced

Additionally, due to the loose wording of the EU court’s decision, there could be repercussions not yet considered by either Google or the courts. Websites like Wikipedia or sites who make a living through celebrity gossip could even see search results omitted from search engines like Google. Bill Echikson, Google’s Head of Free Expression has said in 2013 that, “In our view, only the original publisher can take the decision to remove such content.” He continued, “Once removed from the source webpage, content will disappear from a search engine’s index.”

With that being the case, legal and loophole pushback is sure to quickly come from search engines that service Europe. However, privacy and reputation advocates have received a substantial amount of assistance from European courts. Whichever way movement from this ruling progresses, those in the EU Union and overseas have a lot of vested interest in this situation. This is especially true when net neutrality comes into question, which is often a cause also championed by those who follow privacy concerns. As SEO Twin Falls said, it really will be interesting to see how thing unfold over the coming years regarding reputation management, search legalities and net neutrality.

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