A large win for the search engine giant, Google, happened in the European Court of Justice. They ruled that Google only needs to remove outdated or irrelevant links from the European version of its site.
So, what does that mean for the rest of the world? Outside the European Union, Google has no obligation to delete embarrassing or out-of-date information.
According to Google, they have received over 800,000 “right to be forgotten” requests in the past five years. Those requests cover 3.3 million links, and Google maintains they have removed 45% of them.
So, for those outside the EU, you can ask Google to remove embarrassing or harmful information, but they have no legal obligation to do so. While some hail this as a victory for the freedom of speech others question what it means for the ever-growing reach of the search engine giant.
Driving Consumers to Private Search Engines:
Consumers are more and more aware that the large search engines that create data profiles of each user. They then sell private browsing information for marketing information. Many are choosing to turn to smaller, private search engines that do a better job of protecting privacy online.
Below are a list and a discussion of the advantages of several of the available search engines that do not sell user information.
- HotBot—a search engine built to allow people to browse the internet without sacrificing privacy. The company brands itself as a privacy-centric search engine. User data is not collected and you will never see a targeted add on this search engine. Their site, https://hotbot.com, states that they “empower you to access data, not be the data.” They are currently in the process of building their own VPN service to enhance privacy even more.
- com—https://hot.com is a search engine that targets explicitly adult content. Any search query will bring you relevant results. They allow users to opt-out of any form of data collection. Their opt-out allows users to use a single engine to access potentially sensitive stuff without fear of that data being shared.
- Search Encrypt— https://www.searchencrypt.com uses some of the tightest security measures of all on any private search. They retrieve information from their network of search partners. Unlike many other search engines, they then return those results back to their users. This creates a kind of double-blind layer of privacy protection. Once your search is done, all of your terms and history deleted.
Why It Matters
The major search engines track and share your information. This makes you a product instead of a customer. They hide behind offering a “free” service, but the cost is sacrificing your privacy.
For too long, users have been conditioned to think that it does not matter. Slowly, the magnitude of information available about virtually everyone’s online habits has started to become news. We now know about big data and some of the risks it poses.
Users are realizing that they have options. They do not have to choose between their privacy and poor and irrelevant search results. Most private engines actually access the search databases of the larger engines giving you the same results. They just offer the service without users having to sacrifice their data.
In any single internet browsing session, Google could have access to your name, address, email address, and your current location. That concept is creating unease among savvy internet users and driving a new wave of consumers to private search engines.
There seems to be a coming tipping point where internet users are seeing their own privacy as a commodity. It is no longer something they are willing to trade for the questionable convenience of the larger search engines.
Photo by Benjamin Dada on Unsplash