Many people have something in their past that they would like to removed from the Internet, said Glenn Gabe, president of G-Squared Interactive which provides digital marketing services to executives and celebrities. He spoke via Skype.
Glenn Gabe: They went to prison, right? And maybe ten years ago everything happened, and everything's still showing up in Google on page one, even though they've paid their dues.”
At the Electronic Privacy Information Center, executive director Marc Rotenberg agrees with the European court that privacy is a basic right.
Marc Rotenberg: "You have to consider the ability of individuals to control the dissemination of information about themselves. That is, in many respects, the core of free expression — how we choose to express ourselves or not, or say things or do things. That's, you know, what makes us human."
A number of U.S. privacy advocates disagree with the European court's Google ruling. It’s likely to limit the freedom of information, said Jules Polonetsky, executive director of the Future Privacy Forum.
Jules Polonetsky: " So someone can tell search engines, news aggregators or maybe bloggers, 'Sorry, that information tells us about some individual, that individual doesn't want to be found, you need to take it down,' the effects really could be dramatic. It breaks the Internet."
The European Court ordered Google to delete links containing personal information about a Spanish lawyer's 1998 tax problems at the lawyer's request, because the information was no longer relevant. The right to a free press is specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution,while the right to privacy is merely implied. Jules Polonetsky said access to public information must be protected.
Polonetsky: "So it's a real blow to transparency if legal, public information can be obscured simply because somebody decides that it's information that they’d rather not be available.”
But Marc Rotenberg says the European judges did a good job of balancing privacy with press freedom.
"And what the European Court of Justice has done with this decision is to say, in effect, you know, search is an important service, but it has to be done in a way that protects privacy."
The ruling will be costly for Google and other search engines in Europe, but is not expected to immediately affect their U.S. operations. Amply, VOA News,Washington.