— How does change things in Europe?
The immediate impact will be on 200 cases still pending in the Spanish courts, which will now be guided by the ruling in Europe's highest court. Similar cases in other European countries are likely to be affected, too. Even more European citizens are now expected to challenge results produced alongside their names. Those complaints will create logistical headaches and ethical dilemmas for Google, which processes most of the search requests in Europe. Google said it was disappointed by the ruling and will need time to analyze its implications.
— Will this change the way Google and the other search engines show personal information in the results displayed in the U.S.?
Legal experts doubt it, although the search engines are still trying to figure out how they will draw the lines about what does and doesn't belong in their results. The most likely outcome is that search engines will have different rules for different countries. This isn't unprecedented. For instance, Google censors some information — such as in Germany where there are laws banning it from displaying links to websites promoting Nazi principles — while showing the results in other countries. The First Amendment makes it unlikely that a U.S. court would ever issue a ruling similar to the one made in Europe.
— Is this a major blow to Google?
Google isn't pleased, but the ruling probably won't make the Mountain View, California, company any less powerful or prosperous. That's because the European ruling doesn't touch the ads that Google shows alongside its search results to generate most of its revenue. The decision isn't likely to prompt people to defect from Google's search engine to find information elsewhere either because all its major rivals also will have to limit the breadth of their results. Investors took Tuesday's news in stride, bidding up Google's Class A stock $3.11 to close at $541.54.