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European Court Lets ­sers Erase Records on Web


An eraser

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Google will have to allow online users to erase links to content about them after an unspecified period of time.

Credit: davison.com

The European Court of Justice on Tuesday said Google should allow online users to erase links to content about them after a certain amount of time, in a ruling that rejects long-established Internet practices. The court said people had the right to determine what others can find out about them by searching the Internet, and said search engine operators should erase links to Web pages unless there are "particular reasons" not to do so.

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

The court's decision cannot be repealed and clashes with U.S. First Amendment rights.

The European Court said search engines played an active role as "data controllers" and should be held accountable for their links, and also said "as a general rule" they should place the right to privacy over the right of the public to find information.

Google said the ruling was disappointing and noted it differed significantly from a preliminary verdict last year.

Analysts say the ruling leaves many unanswered questions and could lead to the imposition of digital borders.

From The New York Times
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