The Internet, or more specifically Google, has turned into a giant web of information in the past decade that has something to tell about every netizen and every topic. If a person has entered his info online, it's almost guaranteed to show up in a Google search.
However, that goldmine of information has become a thing of the past, thanks to the new ‘right to be forgotten’ rule's imposition in Europe.
Last month, Google lost a landmark case to Mario Costeja González in the European Court of Justice where the Spaniard complainant successfully argued his right to be forgotten on the search engine. The court ruled that search engines are responsible for the content they point to and Google was required to comply with EU data privacy laws.
Now, news has come out that on the first day of this latest rule taking effect, Google received 12,000 requests from Europeans asking to be forgotten on their site. Then, in an interview with the Financial Times, Google CEO Larry Page shared details of the takedown requests.
He revealed that 31 percent of the 'forgotten' requests are related to frauds or scams; 20 percent to arrests or convictions for violent or serious crimes; 12 percent to child pornography arrests; five percent to the government and police; and two percent related to celebrities.
It means that all those people whose shameful antics from the past are available online for everyone to see can now get a clean slate, regardless of whether they have repented or not. According to Daily Mail, Google's new feature is the most popular amongst convicted pedophiles. They can now get the stories to their former crimes removed and quite possibly hunt for new targets.
In addition to making information online more unreliable than before, the new court-imposed feature also puts Google in a difficult situation. The decision to accept or reject a takedown request lies with the search giant. Since, these requests can make or break a person's reputation, Google now has a special responsibility on its hands – one it never wanted and is not even capable of handling. After all, it’s a tech company, not a court.
One could side step the detrimental effect the ruling may cause to the growth of infant tech companies. What it might do to internet censorship could also be overlooked for now. But knowing that scammers, pedophiles and others of the kind are on the loose is an extremely disturbing thought. Google has commissioned a committee to develop its strategy on the matter, but only time will tell how successful they are in tackling this behemoth of a problem that is threatening to change the landscape of internet.