Trans-Atlantic war over Google

Europe’s moves to rein in Google -- including a court ruling ordering the search giant to give people a say in what pops up when someone searches their name -- may be seen in Brussels as striking a blow for the little guy.

But across the Atlantic, the idea that users should be able to edit Google search results in the name of privacy is being slammed as weird and difficult to enforce at best and a crackdown on free speech at worst.

“Americans will find their searches bowdlerized by prissy European sensibilities,” said Stewart Baker, former assistant secretary for policy at the US Department of Homeland Security. “We’ll be the big losers. The big winners will be French ministers who want the right to have their last mistress forgotten.”

Google says it’s still figuring out how to comply with the European Court of Justice’s May 13 ruling, which says the company must respond to complaints about private information that turns up in searches. Google must then decide whether the public’s right to be able to find the information outweighs an individual’s right to control it -- with preference given to the individual.

The judgment applies to all search engines operating within the European Union. But in practice that means Google, given that 90 percent of all online searches there use Google’s search engine.

Trans-Atlantic war over Google