Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has certainly been a target from several different angles around the world lately. And why not? It is very large company with global reach, and it provides services, software and hardware for millions upon millions of people, and it gathers up as much information as possible about those millions upon millions of people it serves. After all, knowledge is power, and Google – of which fund manager Stephen Mandel is a billion-dollar fan – is one of the most powerful companies in the world because of its expansive knowledge of its customers and online visitors.
And when it comes to the European Union, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has a little too much knowledge for its own good, and Google has been under fire from several angles in the EU – ranging from privacy and data security to its business practices to how its search results are indexed – and even to the amount of taxes it pays legally. Google has been defending itself and fighting off various fines and other sanctions for the better part of the last several ears, and some of this is coming to a head now.
But for once, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) may finally have an advocate in the EU. And considering the general sentiment of the power brokers in the EU right now and the potential implications of this person’s statements regarding Google, this can be a significant turn in Google’s favor. The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice, Niilo Jaaskinen, gave a statement this week that defended Google, saying that the search giant should not be responsible for deleting information that happens to come up in its search results – information that came from a third-party website.
While that may seem like common sense to us here in the States, that statement goes counter to the recent discussion, debate and legal opinion in Europe, which has been pushing for a “right to be forgotten” principle when it comes to web searching and history. In fact, this ruling goes directly counter to what a Spanish national data-protection agency ruled recently, when it demanded that Google remove some content from its search results after a complaint from a user whos information was provided in a Google search query.
“Search engine service providers are not responsible, on the basis of the Data Protection Directive, for personal data appearing on web pages they process,” Jaaskinen wrote in his opinion. In response to this predictably, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) was pleased. “This is a good opinion for free expression. We’re glad to see it supports our long-held view that requiring search engines to suppress ‘legitimate and legal information’ would amount to censorship,” it said in a statement.
Does this really mean anything in the course of human events?