It was a case of David versus Goliath in the digital age. On one side of the fight was Google, the seemingly all-powerful tech giant bristling with lawyers and masses of corporate cash. On the other side was Mario Costeja González, a regular, everyday citizen of Spain.
What were these two combatants fighting about? The right to be forgotten.
One of the age-old “rules” of the internet is that anything posted online will remain online. Forever. That’s because the archival and automatic save features of search engines (including Google) make it difficult, if not impossible, for pieces of content to ever really be deleted.
That reality became a big cause for concern for Mario Costeja González. All the way back in 1998, the Spanish Ministry of Labor and Public Affairs posted an article about landowners who were forced to sell their properties because of social security debts. The government wanted as many bidders as possible competing for those properties, so it publicized the list. Mr. González was one of the owners forced to sell.
Sixteen years later, in 2014, that article was still at the top of the search results whenever someone looked on Google for “Mario Costeja González.” The old property had been disposed of long ago, and Mr. González’s debts had not been an issue for more than a decade. But the article still haunted him. He couldn’t get away from it. He tried to resolve the issue with Google through several channels, but nothing worked.
So Mario picked up his five smooth stones and prepared for a legal battle.
Amazingly, he won! The European Court of Justice ruled that Mr. González—and any other citizen of the European Union—did indeed possess the right to be forgotten. Meaning, they had the right to petition search engines to remove personal data that appeared to be inadequate or inaccurate, content that was no longer relevant, or content deemed excessive because of how much time had elapsed. Of course, there have been multiple layers of appeals since that initial ruling, and the practical consequences have taken years to play out. Still, the ruling was a major turning point in the history of the internet.1
There’s an irony in that reality. All Mr. González wanted was the removal of a thirty-six-word article so he could move on from past troubles. By suing to make that happen, however, he has cemented his own legacy in connection with that fight.
In other words, because of his desire to be forgotten, Mario Costeja González will be remembered for decades or even centuries!
It’s unlikely that you or I will take on a technology giant over the right to be forgotten. In fact, it’s unlikely that you or I want to be forgotten.
Instead, most of us want to be remembered. We want to be remembered by our family and friends. We want to be remembered for our successes and our character. We want to be remembered for our accomplishments in this life, but most of all we want to be known and accepted by God. Our souls long for a deep relationship with the Creator of the universe, Almighty God.
The Good News of the Gospel is this: Through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have access to eternal life as a free gift received through faith. Because of God’s Word, we can rest in the knowledge that God not only remembers us but also loves us and desires a relationship with us. It is His greatest desire that we live forever with Him in heaven.
David Jeremiah, God Has Not Forgotten You: He Is with You, Even in Uncertain Times (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2021).
We have just released a new Bible Study on the book, God Has Not Forgotten You.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Each lesson consists of 20 or so ready-to-use questions that get groups talking. Answers are provided in the form of quotes from respected authors such as John Piper, Max Lucado and David Jeremiah.
These lessons will save you time as well as provide deep insights from some of the great writers and thinkers from today and generations past. I also include quotes from the same commentaries that your pastor uses in sermon preparation.
Ultimately, the goal is to create conversations that change lives.