The tide is turning, and members of the public are now able to remove inaccurate search results that negatively affect them – in Europe at least.
Hundreds of people including an ex-politician seeking re-election, a paedophile and a doctor have applied to have details about them wiped from Google’s search index since a landmark ruling in Europe on Tuesday.
The deluge of claims trying to exercise the “right to be forgotten” follows a decision by Europe’s highest court, which said that in some cases the right to privacy of individuals outweighs the freedom of search engines to link to information about them although the information itself can remain on web pages.
It is really hard to see how far this will go in the future. In one direction this is just a glitch, and it will be a case of collateral damage (bad luck if a few people are affected) vs the greater efficiency.
In the other direction, people get to control how they are represented online. This might (ironically) require unique identifiers so we can distinguish between people with different names.
I certainly don’t want this, but for the sake of efficiencies I suggest that people can choose to have a unique identifier / username / handle that would be displayed alongside your regular name online. It would be a case of claiming or disclaiming online references. In doing so you risk legal action that makes the connections more definite (or not).