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On Tuesday this week, the European Court of Justice made an unprecedented ruling. They stated that people must have the right to erase their tracks on the Internet. They said that Google should let users’ online histories be erased after some time. The decision has brought praise and criticism in equal amounts.
A Ruling to Erase the Past
According to the High Court of Europe in Luxembourg, users must retain control over their online identities. They ruled that people should be able to create the online image that they desire. This means that people should be able to remove certain links about them that they find undesirable. They said the Google should make a way for these links to disappear after a set period of time. There are of course certain conditions where the data can be ordered to remain.
The case that started this all began is 2009. A lawyer posed the question of old and irrelevant information negatively affecting current opportunities. He has now successfully had two archived articles about him taken out of Google’s search index. The Internet holds information about people that goes back to when it first went public. And for the past 25 years, people have been going online regularly to look for such information about other people. In the real world, there are certain procedures to follow before one can simply access this type of information. On the Internet, the person who is searching can remain anonymous.
The High Court in Europe said that search engines had to be more responsible with the data that they collect. This data is very sensitive and so they must be held liable for its use or abuse. People’s rights to privacy are more important than lawful collection and publication of data, the court said. Search engines must take this into consideration when they offer data up in their search results.
Privacy VPNs and Search Anonymity
Privacy VPNs like ExpressVPN have been used by Internet users for a long time. Privacy VPNs have given them the power to influence what search engines like Google can attribute to them. Privacy VPNs do this by hiding IP addresses and other clues in their traffic. This way, search engines can’t identify them to include that activity in the profiles that they create.
This new decision to grant Internet users the right to choose what remains on the Web also lets them manipulate what the Internet keeps records of. Online searches can be controlled to show the rest of the world only what users want them to know. This shaping of online profiles is very important for many people. It allows them to keep certain aspects of their lives private.
Until now, search engines like Google have had the power to record and recover data any time they wanted. Some of this data can be controversial and sensitive. This can put users in a very bad position. This is why the European Court of Justice has decided to limit that power.
Reactions to Erasing Search Engine Data
Some people say that the power to erase certain data stored by search engines is good. It leaves people with the freedom to decide what they choose to have disclosed about themselves. Many people are worried and complain about how much the Internet can know about them even when they don’t want to share this information. In the good old days, past was past. People forgot bad things and everyone could move on. Now, there is no past because online data follows everyone around forever.
Other people say that it is dishonest. It allows people to hide things that could be important for, say, prospective employers, to know. Some also say that it destroys the Internet by restricting the free flow of information. In The United States, such a decision would conflict with First Amendment rights.
There are many implications to this new ruling. But it does not really change much in the larger scheme of things. Information that is of public record will remain available through the proper channels. And with the advent of Privacy VPNs, people can hide their online activities anyway. The last 25 years can do a lot for people who have not been careful online. But Privacy VPNs are around to protect people now and in the future.