In 2009, a lawyer by the name of Mario Costeja Gonzalez, who was a self employed attorney living in a small town living outside of Madrid, Spain googled his name which came up with a result of a brief legal notice that was no longer relevant. It appeared over a decade earlier in a local newspaper by the name of La Vanguardia that had his information about his debt listed. He had already solved his debt around the same time this legal notice was published so his personal data that was posted was actually no longer factual and relevant. The next week Costeja requested that the newspaper put it down. By doing so, he was making use of his rights under the policies of the Spain Data Protection Agency, or SDPA, which recognized the protection and integrity of personal data as a constitutional right under Section 18 of the nation’s Data Protection Act. He also referred to the right to be forgotten assumed greater prominence in the digital era, when people began finding it increasingly difficult to escape information that had accumulated over many years, resulting in expressions such as “the net never forgets,” “everything is in the cloud,” “reputation bankruptcy,” and “online reputation making this a serious matter for him to get dealt with as he later sues google to get this taken down even though he knows how big a company they are.” This case presents a lot of ethical issues and corporate responsibility with its relationship and protection of its consumers and its stakeholders.
Details of the Company
Google search is a technology company that builds products and provides services to organize information. It was founded in 1998 and located in Mountain View, California. Google’s mission was to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It employed more than 55,000 people and had revenues of $45 billion. The company also had 70 offices in more than 40 countries. At its core, google conducted searches in three ways crawling and indexing, applying algorithms, and fighting spam. Crawlers are programs that is used to create an index of data that moved link to link that went back to google servers. Algorithms were the computer processes and formulas that took users’ questions and turned them into answers. Google’s algorithms relied on more than 200 unique signals. Signals including terms, the freshness of content, the region, and the page rank. As well as fighting off spam through algorithms that tried to be at the top through repeating keywords, buying links, and putting invisible text on the screen. Google scouted and removed spam because it would make the company illegitimate which is what Google wanted to avoid in this explained case.
If Google doesn’t take down the irrelevant information, it poses a threat to the effective enjoyment of the users rights which could possibly lead to a decrease in users. Google users are Google Inc.’s top priority stakeholders and are the primary reasons how Google has gained its popularity. By not taking down Gonzalez’s personal information, users might view Google as an unethical company who isn’t fulfilling its corporate social responsibility and it’s duty for consumer protection. With this in mind, if users think Google is unethical, they might start to rely on another search engine that satisfies their ethical behavior and Google starts to lose its popularity, not only amongst its users and their communities, but other stakeholders as well – especially their employees.
Many Google employees enjoy working at this company because it is viewed as one of the best companies to work for. Google Inc. provides many benefits and incentives for its employees to make it more appealing to work there. However, as soon as Google start to lose its reputation as the “best company out there to work for”, employees will find it hard to want to work there and will most likely face demotivation to fulfill their duties as employees.
Another stakeholder that will face challenges is the government since Google is a global company with subsidiaries all over the world. Each subsidiary is within a specific jurisdiction where that government is the one that regulates the subsidiaries behavior. The government is only controlling the subsidiaries or managing company by allowing or prohibiting all of the company’s actions. However, it gets challenging to be able to regulate the behaviors according to the specified governments while also trying to abide by Google Inc. policies as the managing company. In the end, it is not just the stakeholders that are involved in cases like this; the company itself goes through its own challenges when trying to resolve any issue that comes its way.
Challenges of the Company
Since the case is being brought against Google, the corporation faces many challenges to ensure that they remain highly reputable. One of the main challenges they faced was turning their efforts towards trying to push this case away when that time could have been spent trying to run their corporation more efficiently. Google has already taken steps in developing algorithms and programs to run their search engines efficiently but they would have had to invest in more resources to modify or redevelop these programs to produce the results that Gonzalez and the SDPA had requested.
Another big challenge they had to resolve was to determine which part of Google was at fault – Google Inc. or Google Spain. It was highly disputable since Google Inc. did not want to take responsibility for the actions in this case and did not want to be ruled as the guilty party. The ruling courts had to determine who was the data controller and who had the obligations to remove personal information from the internet due to their powers of how they attained and published the information. Google is a legitimate and reliable source of information for users that people can access easily and efficiently. Since it is highly popular among its users and has great business value, this makes it the biggest challenge the company could go through since every company relies on their reputation.
Assessment and Analysis
This case heavily depends on the idea of corporate social responsibility and the government and business’s ability to carry out consumer protection. To carry these duties out, ethics and managing information technology needs to be taken into consideration. Governments and businesses are both trying to understand information technology to try and reduce the amount of cybercrime that is committed. It is important for them to try to find the right balance in order to enjoy the benefits of the technology they incorporate into their businesses. With this case, Gonzalez felt unvalued and that the government and the business were not trying hard enough to protect his consumer rights by recklessly managing its IT programs and systems.
Gonzalez used a method of consumerism to create a kind of consumer movement to emphasize the importance of the right to be forgotten and consumer privacy and ensure the government and business were implementing consumer protection laws. This is based off of business ethics relating to consumers rights. With all this tied together, this case is an event that showed how Google could resolve its lawsuit by carrying out its corporate social responsibility to show they value their consumers and stakeholders. In the end, Google needs to be able to ensure that they act in a way that is ethical and in consideration of human right by taking their actions into account.
Costs and Benefits of the Company’s Action
By not taking down Gonzalez’s information down, Gonzalez was able to portray Google as an untrustworthy corporation. He portrayed it as a company that would put up information that was not factual and relevant in the present day, even if it was factual years before. He showed that Google was not up to date with their information and in doing so, Google was sued by a single consumer because they failed to protect their consumers’ rights to be forgotten. It also cost its own reputation and money from getting sued. By not fulfilling its corporate social responsibility, it probably cost not only Gonzalez’s loyalty but others as well because of the portrayal of how google mislead the information about Gonzalez. After the Court ruled Google as the guilty party and the case was resolved. Google decided to take their users rights more seriously by informing them when their information is used or if it could be used.
Recommendations and Conclusion
Google could have averted this crisis by making the company police its links and put into place a mechanism to address individual concerns and attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s interest to know and the right to distribute information. As big of a company as they are, it is also necessary for them to keep updated on what information is true or no longer relevant so it doesn’t publicly harm individuals like Gonzalez. .
In the future, the managers of the company could ask for information from the individual while also notifying them when they want to use the individual’s information and providing them with a brief explanation. After asking and notifying, it should ultimately be the individual’s decision on whether their information can be shared with the public online. They should be able recognize what type of data is being used and to make sure it is not fake information or too personal.
Google needs to protect the individual and take into account what they want based on their rights as whatever is out there can have a huge impact on their lives. Also, Google should have some kind of program or mechanism that allows the individual to request a local data protection authority review Google’s decision. Google should figure out a way that will allow its search engines to stay up to date and determine outdated or inaccurate information. The individual needs to be included so they don’t violate people’s rights, which is the whole point of passing and regulating consumer protection laws, so companies like Google do not leave themselves open to another lawsuit like this one.