Google vs EU

Google got some good news from the European Union’s top court yesterday, “The Court concludes that, currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject, as the case may be, to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine.” In other words, the “right to be forgotten” rules only apply to the 28 states in the EU, and the EU has no jurisdiction to impose the rules globally.

What fascinates me is that most (if not all reporting) about this ruling is focused on Google’s win or the EU’s loss. This is truly a mistake. Big tech is, by definition, global. And, from an internet point of view, there is no such thing as the EU or America or any country, there is simply the internet and users (people and machines) that use it.

This ruling should be viewed in the context of the rights of all human beings everywhere vs. the idea that ownership of our behavioural data and information created about us (real or fake) inevitably belongs to organizations that we cannot and will not have any control over.

Think about this… why are the data elite “entitled” to record, use and keep our data forever? Said differently, if you had a minor incident (real, fake or just reported in a way that was not favorable to you) when you were in your 20’s and at age 40, it is still a top search result for keywords such as “jail” or “arrest” or “harassment” or “drugs” (all keywords which HR managers, human or machine, search automatically), who do you go see? Your friends and relatives have forgotten about it, the internet never will.

But that example is too limiting. How about your thermostat data, or your driving record, location data, phone activity, number of steps walked daily, trips taken, pretty much every aspect of your daily life generates data that is recorded and used by data-rich organizations in ways you cannot begin to understand. At the moment, this usage is restricted only by the various clickwrap policies you “agree” to.

This is the fight Google (as a proxy for all data-rich companies) won and the EU lost. This loss says, the EU is not powerful enough to fight this fight for humanity, it can only fight for the citizens of its 28 states.

In other words, modern governments do not have the proper mental or legal framework to deal with the digital transformation we are experiencing at an exponential pace.

Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.

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About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is a business advisor and technology consultant. He helps Fortune 500 companies with digital transformation, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn's Top Voice in Technology, he is the co-host of "Think About This with Shelly Palmer & Ross Martin" on the Westwood One Podcast Network. He covers tech and business for Good Day New York, writes a weekly column for Adweek, is a regular commentator on CNN and CNBC, and writes a popular daily business blog. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com

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