Last week's CI CyberNews CyberPoll asked readers if individuals should be able to compel Google and other search engines to remove information that they feel is excessive, irrelevant or defamatory. Responses were divided. About 44.4% of respondents said yes, while an equal amount (44.5%) said no. The remaining 11.1% are unsure. One reader commented, "Yes, with the caveat that the information is untrue. If the information is true, it has the right to exist."
Other comments included:
"We shouldn't hide our past actions."
"The question is poorly worded. If criminal records or public government info is on there, no one should be allowed to have it removed. It is a deterrent to bad behavior. Perhaps legislation could be drawn making it a criminal offense to defame with intent."
"Having search engines not return results does not 'erase the past.' The information will still be on the same website. If something actually is excessive, irrelevant, or defamatory, the interested parties should take it up with the actual website or websites that host the information. Legal action (with all the related freedom speech concerns) can be taken against those posting/publishing the information if necessary. It may be easier to try to control the information at the relatively few search engines, but legislation that addresses only the search engines is a lazy answer -- and only partially effective. If someone gets a website to take something down, then asking Google to erase it from the cached files could be appropriate."
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