We are too blase about our online data

Source – Brisbane Times


I was surprised to read over the weekend that Google had only received 12,000 requests from people wishing to “be forgotten” online.

Sure it was the first day, but I’d have thought there’d be a few more people lining up for this data cleansing service.

It all comes from a European court ruling in May that instructed Google to offer an online form for people to opt out of Google’s famous search results – as long as they meet certain criteria.

According to Google itself, Europe has about 739 million people.

So the 12,000 people from day one equates to just 0.0016 per cent of Europe’s population asking to be removed. I’m sure more will want themselves scrubbed for the search results, but only 0.0016 per cent?

Are we becoming too blasé with our personal data and do we care enough about what and where personal information is freely available online?

It’s very simple to find out plenty about someone you know or even have never met. You just punch their name into a search engine.

And we all know that “data stalking” takes place in personal and professional circles on a regular basis too.

For example, some businesses may use the search engines to comb the web for any personal information when assessing you for employment prospects.

They might look closely into who you are, your past and will likely search images and stories about your habits, hobbies and online profiles – most likely to see if there’s any pictures of you trying to beat Bob Hawke’s beer sculling record.

As Google ages, this data will also grow and remain online.

And today’s young people are building up large repositories of data that will remain in databases for many years to come.

Will a simple form that’s moderated by another human over at Google be enough to remove the most stubborn of data footprints in the future?

Or don’t we care enough – yet?