Last year Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that “privacy is no longer a social norm”. However one has only to witness the uproar this week over Facebook Messenger and the exposure of phone contacts to see that privacy isn’t dead. In Europe — Spain in particular — privacy is not fading away it’s making new inroads against competing interests.
According to New Your Times article, “Spain’s government has ordered Google to stop indexing information about 90 citizens who filed formal complaints with its Data Protection Agency. The case is now in court and being watched closely across Europe for how it might affect the control citizens will have over information they posted, or which was posted about them, on the Web.
Whatever the ruling in the Spanish case, the European Union is also expected to weigh in with new “right to be forgotten” regulations this fall.”
Among them was a victim of domestic violence who discovered that her address could easily be found through Google. Another, well into middle age now, thought it was unfair that a few computer key strokes could unearth an account of her arrest in her college days
On this issue, experts say, Europe and the United States have largely parted company. The issue, however, has had no traction in the United States, where anyone has the right to take pictures of anything in plain sight from the street.
Quoting Georgetown law professor Franz Werro, the piece discusses how privacy law is going in very different directions in Europe and the US:
[I]n the United States, Mr. Werro said, courts have consistently found that the right to publish the truth about someone’s past supersedes any right to privacy. Europeans, he said, see things differently: “In Europe you don’t have the right to say anything about anybody, even if it is true.”
Also cited in the article are the results of an EU poll that shows most Europeans support the concept of a “right to be forgotten”:
Three out of four [Europeans] said they were worried about how Internet companies used their information and wanted the right to delete personal data at any time. Ninety percent wanted the European Union to take action on the right to be forgotten.
Google declined to discuss the Spanish cases, instead issuing a statement saying that requiring search engines to ignore some data “would have a profound chilling effect on free expression without protecting people’s privacy.”
Google has also faced suits in several countries, including Germany, Switzerland and the Czech Republic, over its efforts to collect street-by-street photographs for its Street View feature. In Germany, where courts found that Street View was legal, Google allowed individuals and businesses to opt out, and about 250,000 have.
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