Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

High court lets Europeans erase records on Web

Europe's highest court said Tuesday that people had the right to influence what the world could learn about them through online searches, a ruling that rejected long-established notions about the free flow of information on the Internet.

A search engine like Google should allow online users to be "forgotten" after a certain time by erasing links to Web pages unless there are "particular reasons" not to, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg said.

The decision underlined the power of search companies to retrieve controversial information while simultaneously placing sharp limits on their ability to do so. Jonathan Zittrain, a law and computer science professor at Harvard, said those who were determined to shape their online personas could in essence have veto power over what they wanted people to know.

"Some will see this as corrupting," he said. "Others will see it as purifying. I think it's a bad solution to a very real problem, which is that everything is now on our permanent records."

In some ways, the court is trying to erase the last 25 years, when people learned to routinely check out online every potential suitor, partner or friend. Under the court's ruling, information would still exist on websites, court documents and online archives of newspapers, but people would not necessarily know it was there.

In the United States, the court's ruling would clash with the First Amendment.

"More and more Internet users want a little of the ephemerality and the forgetfulness of predigital days," said Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of Internet governance at the Oxford Internet Institute.

The court said search engines played an active role as data "controllers" and must be held accountable for the links they provide. Search engines could be compelled to remove links to certain pages, it said, "even when the publication in itself on those pages is lawful."

The court also said that a search engine "as a general rule" should place the right to privacy over the right of the public to find information.

The burden of fulfilling the court's directives will fall largely on Google. Google said in a statement that the ruling was disappointing and that the company was surprised it differed so much from a preliminary verdict last year that was largely in its favor.

High court lets Europeans erase records on Web 05/13/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 10:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, NY Times Syndication.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Sen. Nelson urges FEMA to examine high number of denied flood claims

    Banking

    Sen. Bill Nelson urged FEMA on Tuesday to ensure fairness, proper oversight and transparency in processing Hurricane Irma aid following a report by the Palm Beach Post that 90 percent of Irma claims under the National Flood Insurance Program had been denied.

    Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for FEMA to ensure the flood claims process post-Hurricane Irma is fair and ethical following reports that 90 percent of claims under the National Flood Insurance Program were denied. | [Times file photo]
  2. Pasco delays Irma food distribution after problems elsewhere

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — Pasco County has pulled the plug on a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Center that had been scheduled to open to the public on Sunday.

    Pasco County has postponed a planned Food for Florida distribution at the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Collier Parkway and is seeking an alternative site. Last week, commissioners said they feared a repeat of the long lines of traffic that appeared outside Plant City Stadium on Oct. 9. The nutrition program for people affected by Hurricane Irma had been scheduled to come to Land O' Lakes Oct. 18 to 27.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Editorial: UF can set example for free speech

    Editorials

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is bringing his racist message Thursday to the University of Florida in a legitimate, if utterly repugnant, display of the First Amendment at work. As a public university, UF has little choice but to allow Spencer's speech to take place. Now the university and the broader community has …

    By responding with peaceful protests and refusing to be provoked into violence, UF and the Gainesville community can provide a powerful repudiation of Richard Spencer’s hateful message.
  4. Percussionist rocks out with a blazing triangle solo during Florida Orchestra performance

    Blogs

    Oh, the poor triangle. It's the orchestra equivalent of a rock band's tamborine, and such easy fodder for jokes.

    John Shaw performs a triangle solo.
  5. Amazon expands in Tampa with Pop-Up shop in International Plaza

    Retail

    TAMPA — A new retailer known largely for its online presence has popped up at International Plaza and Bay Street.

    Shoppers walk past the new Amazon kiosk Tuesday at the International Plaza in Tampa. The kiosk, which opened last month, offers shoppers an opportunity to touch and play with some of the products that Amazon offers.
[CHRIS URSO   |   Times]