Admit it, you've Googled yourself. It was either embarrassing or illuminating, wasn't it? For some people it may be horrifying. Embarrassing photos, haunting news items, perhaps stuff they wouldn't want a potential employer or potential date, to see. But how can you scrub the internet? Well, so far, in the U.S. you can't, but in the EU it is an option. European Union courts recently made a landmark ruling requiring Google to allow for "the right to be forgotten". It gives ordinary citizens a chance to distance themselves from negative results when someone Googles their name. This doesn't mean that any and all unsavory information is just removed from the internet. Rather, an individual must make a formal request using an online interface. Currently, there's a tremendous backlog. According to an Inc.com article, there were 12,000 requests the first day, up to twenty requests per minute.
Each request is assessed on it's own merit. As of yet, there is no word from the company on the percentage of complaints that meet the court specifications for potentially objectionable, which are "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant."
Some say such gentrification of internet searches amounts to censorship, and may lead to public officials and criminals eliminating or hiding unfavorable information from the public, but that is not the intent of the ruling, as the basis is relevancy. Additionally, the guidelines that Google has set up, would display a notice that some information has been removed due to privacy considerations.
And to be fair, they are only in control of what comes up in Google searches. You're on your own when it comes to other search engines.
One can only imagine the intricacies of determining what is proper, what can reasonably be removed, what pieces of everyone's life that the public has a right to know. Even harder to imagine the same ruling getting thoughtful consideration here in America. For now, we all have to continue to be careful about what we post as public information.
Do you really want to post that #selfie?