In May 2014, the European Court of Justice issued a ruling against Google in which it found that private citizens essentially have a “right to be forgotten” on the Internet. More specifically, the court found that individuals should be able to petition Google, or any search provider, in order to change what websites display when someone searches for that individual’s name.
The decision was heralded by privacy champions as a victory for individual rights, bemoaned by technology companies as added regulation that will stifle innovation, and met with trepidation among social scientists who cautioned about the censoring of the web. Google and other search companies scrambled to comply with the ruling, creating systems for users to request the suppression of search results and processes for adjudicating those requests. And around the globe, general counsels and compliance officers began to wonder what will come next.