In the Internet and Big Data Era, where information is launched and never vanishes, it could be arduously difficult to erase any information from the World Wide Web. In the world of Internet Law, the “right to be forgotten” or “the right to oblivion” is defined as a person’s right to remove personal details and information which have been posted on-line. This concept is a vital part of on-line reputation management.
In Europe it is said that the Law follows the pace of the internet. The right to have information extinguished on the internet was included in a European Data Protection Regulation Draft, which was started years ago and might be approved by the end of this year. During the process to pass the legislation there was an unprecedented ruling by the European Court of Justice against search engines, forcing them to erase links with sensitive, unimportant or outdated information at the user’s request.
This decisive ruling in Internet Law opened the door for European internet users. Shortly after the decision, thousands of Europeans requested and were granted the withdrawal of their personal information from search engines. At the same time, a Canadian court took a similar position and compelled Google to erase specific search results.
However, the controversial Canadian ruling which followed their European adjudicative counterpart is expected to struggle with two problems. Firstly, the Canadian decision was set as a precedent for worldwide application, as long as it involved search results on google.com; the problem is that, unlike the Internet, the Law must deal with territorial boundaries and jurisdiction issues for enforcement purposes. Further, this personal European right to force Google to remove search results could find more challenges vis-à-vis American and Canadian Internet Law, since it touches on the rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press and finally, freedom of expression. These rights are known to have a determinant weight in the American and Canadian Law systems. Ultimately, this right of removal could even be seen as a form of censorship which traditionally is fought against with full force in North America.
If you are looking for on-line reputation management and are located in Toronto or in Canada for that matter, asking for a court order to remove personal information from Google search results might be an option. Nevertheless, as you may have gathered, this right is still not clear and truly supported by a high court decision. Our recommendation is to attack your online problem from several different directions. Online reputation management must be approached both from a legal and business perspective. It is possible to effectively and successfully enforce your “right to be forgotten” with a combination of an on-line reputation management and SEO strategy. It involves a combination of enforcing your legal rights, pushing up positive search results and driving down negative search results. Amidst the current nebulous legal trend a holistic approach would be the most effective.
*The information provided in this article is for general purposes and guidance only and is not intended to constitute legal or professional advice.
iRISEmedia.com is a Toronto digital media agency and SEO company, specializing in Social Media and internet marketing. Among other integrated services we offer specialized online reputation management and Internet Law services that focus on removing negative personal information from the top search engine results. We service clients in Toronto and throughout Canada as well as globally.