How Europe Is Testing Whether You Can Make Google Forget

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Kashmir Hill, whose Forbes blog The Not-So Private Parts is a new favorite, brings word of what could become a landmark case for the future of the Internet. A Spanish plastic surgeon is fighting to have a single, negative Google search result for his name expunged from the record. Google doesn't want to do it. In the U.S., the company's corporate power has been enough to keep it from having to do such individual scrubs. But in the European Union, regulators may just force Google to let people have more control over what shows up about them in the search engine's database.

It's a fascinating case all around. Check out the particulars:

A cutting edge legal complaint in Europe over Internet reputation could force Google to rethink how it handles individuals' control over the search results for their names.

Spanish plastic surgeon Hugo Guidotti Russo wanted Google to liposuction from his results a 1991 news article about a patient angry about an allegedly botched breast surgery. The article, from El País, about a breast surgery gone wrong that led a female patient to accuse Russo of malpractice, has the translated headline, "The risk of wanting to be slim." Russo was later cleared of wrongdoing in the surgery but the article -- which doesn't mention his acquittal -- shows up on Russo's first page of results. Google, as is its policy, refused to scrub it.

The case is one of over 80 in Spain in which the country's privacy regulator, the Agency for Data Protection, has ordered Google to intervene and delete links from search results because they are out of date or contain inaccurate information.

Read the full story at Kashmir Hill at Forbes.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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