On May 13th, 2014, the highest court in the European Union decided that google and other search engines operating with EU country domains must allow requests from individual citizens who want information about them removed from google search results. The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by a Spanish man who continued to receive solicitation about an auction he was forced to hold in 1998 to pay back his government. The court determined that because the primary “purpose” of the article had already happened, the public benefit from continuing to include information about the man’s previous debt problems was outweighed by his “right to be forgotten.”
This ruling could have been a boon for individuals who want to better online reputation protection, but Google made two determinations integral to how they will go facilitate a person’s removal from their search results.
1) Google has the power to reject a person’s request for removal
2) Google is only going to remove your requested information from EU member websites
So let’s say that I live in Germany, was arrested, but not convicted, for something embarrassing, and now I notice online sources mentioning the details of my altercation. I could now theoretically petition Google to remove the details of my arrest from their search results, but because of their qualifications for search removal, will not necessarily remove this information which seriously damages my reputation from the internet.
Firstly, Google retains the right to deny my request. Second, Google will only remove my information from Google EU websites, so although the details of my arrest will not come up as a result in Google.de or Google.Fr, they will continue to be available for non EU google websites like google.com. Google will furthermore insert a disclosure on their EU websites informing the searcher that Google complied with my request to remove certain undisclosed information about me. So even if google agrees on removing the harmful information about me, they are only removing it from some of their websites.
These two stipulations mean that although you have a right to be forgotten, google will not completely guarantee your erasure from the internet, and can instead include information that continues to make you appear suspicious. That’s why online reputation monitoring and protection should continue to be a crucial aspect of your reputation management strategy.
Even if google agrees to take down harmful and potentially untrue information about you, you still need to independently petition other popular search engines like bing and yahoo to remove your information. Your reputation monitoring strategy should incorporate searching other google sites like google.com or google.au for the information which reflects negatively on you, as well as other popular search websites with EU domains and with domains from other countries. Furthermore, brainstorming strategies to embellish your online presence can continue to do wonders for protecting your reputation. If you want help with strategizing and implementing a reputation monitoring and reputation protection plan, contact a premier reputation management firm like Matador Solutions.