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Google’s advisory council recently met in Berlin and London to discuss the recent ‘right to be forgotten ruling’ made by the European court of Justice.

This ruling massively impacts the search enginer’s functionality as a source of free information; Google’s Transparency Report (http://www.google.com/transparencyreport/removals/europeprivacy/?hl=en-US) shows that the highest number of URLs that have been requested to be removed are from Facebook. In this sense, the original information is not taken away by Google, but its ability to be found is limited by this intervention.

Law students should become familiar with the European Commission’s implementation of the Right to be forgotten, as this legislation is very specifically used in European jurisdictions. The intent of this right is to prevent people being unduly impacted by an event in their past or information from their past being unsurfaced which would portray that person in an unfavourable way.

This poses the dilemma of censorship and freedom of speech; the ethical dilemma over whether people should be held accountable to their past actions or whether people have the right to disavow their previous actions. From a law perspective, we should consider how deletion requests from Google, as one example, should be honoured in respect to opposing concerns of censorship and freedom of speech, while philosophy applicants should consider this case in the light of the determinism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism), and considering if people are separable from their past actions.

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