This month, Spanish citizen Mario Costeja González fought Google in the European Court of Justice because the company did not delete a 1998 home repossession charge and the information was damaging his personal life. The victory put Google and American laws at odds with European legal rules. González’s case brings up the basic maintenance of a global network where individual regions and nations abide different legal and judicial systems.
A question of which legal system trumps another comes into question.
However, this is not the first time Google has faced problems with online data. When Google Maps first appeared, the German government found the faces of its citizens in freeze frame to go against the ‘right to be forgotten.’ Ruling in favor of privacy, the internet company was forced to blur out German faces. So one may find it surprising that Google is shocked about the latest E.U. court ruling.
While Americans assume nearly everything is publishable online, European courts have ruled in favor of personal privacy since 1953. In 1953, the European Convention of Human Rights very clearly noted “respect for private and family life” to be important in personal rights. An enacted provision in 1981 targeted automatic data processing and a 2010 introduced ‘the right to be forgotten’ to keep up with technology’s growth. Since search engines collect data, the definition of the 1981 ruling, the E.U. court feels the company must abide by legal regulation.
In essence, Google must erase any data proving to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.” Since the ruling early last week, Google has been inundated with claims to erase certain data. Company production faces a slowdown because the workers cannot keep up with the requested. deletion rate.
Personal data in the E.U. extends to the creative rights and siding with creators over consumers. The state-run German collecting agency Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte, or GEMA, prevents many YouTube videos from being views in Germany as the use of non-creator owned music does not profit the creator/artist. YouTube is owned by Google, Inc, the parent company to the search engine. GEMA vs Google, Inc resulted in the almost complete blocking of the YouTube website. GEMA has won nearly every lawsuit filed against YouTube and Google, Inc. While not a right to be forgotten case, Google faces many battles against European privacy right laws.
European rights fundamentally boil down to placing correct, proven information over irrelevant, untruthful, and/or suspicious information. Americans may understand the context, but not the overseeing element of a governing body that dictates passive businesses to maintain individual users for anyone online. The different ideologies and legal structures often force a deeper look into what may be considered public record. And the rulings impact in the international business world.