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Right of Anonymity

In a recent dramatic ruling, the European Supreme Court determined that people have a “right to be forgotten.” Each year, Google receives more than 70,000 requests to remove personal information from its search results. The Supreme Court decided that Google must comply with these requests if the information is “not appropriate, not relevant or exaggerated.” This vague ruling has forced Google to establish a special division to examine all deletion requests on a case-by-case basis.

Google’s lawyers have noted that the ruling exempts news sites from removing the information from their archives and web pages. The information can remain online, just not accessible through a Google search.

According to Google’s experts, the only ones who truly benefit from this ruling are shady public figures or criminals, who are attempting to rewrite their own history and erase any past marks against them. In Google’s view, this information should remain visible and accessible, so that every adult would know to take responsibility for his or her own actions. If someone acts inappropriately, this information will become public and it will not be readily forgotten.

Beyond the inconvenience for Google, though, this case is a significant one for the Information generation. How do we balance the public’s right to know with the individual’s right to privacy?

In a spiritual sense, we are approaching an era when all our secrets will be revealed, but this will not cause any shame or humiliation. Through a profound process of teshuvah, all our misdeeds will be transformed into good deeds. It will also become revealed how everything that we experienced was in essence good, and our only mistake was in our assessment of reality. We won’t need a search engine to find the hidden good. It will be revealed to all of us, open and accessible, for all time.

Even before the Redemption becomes a reality, there is a spiritual lesson we can take from the European ruling. Enough “searching” each other. Perhaps you still have old scores to settle, but it’s a shame to waste the final moments of exile pawing through the trash. The time has come to notice only the good in others, to focus on it and reinforce it. These are the final moments when we can choose between good and evil. Soon that choice will be gone, simply because the evil will be completely eradicated. There will be no room for evil and it will simply disappear – including from Google’s search results.



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