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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The uniquely European "right to be forgotten" will be limited to that continent, per a ruling by the European Union's top court on Tuesday.

Driving the news: Google has won a major case in Europe over the EU's "right to be forgotten," meaning the search giant will not be forced to filter search results for Europeans outside of the region.

  • The New York Times this week told the story of Italian journalist Alessandro Biancardi, who refused to pull an article about a fight between 2 brothers just because one of them wanted it removed.

History lesson: A 2014 ruling granted European citizens the right to ask search engines to remove sensitive or outdated information from listings about their past. The French government wanted the ruling to be applied globally.

  • Google has been a frequent target, telling the Times it has received more than 3.3 million requests to delete search results, including news items, criminal convictions and posts from social media. Per the Times, Google has removed the items in 45% of cases, while either rejecting or fighting the remainder of the requests.

Between the lines: Many people inside and outside of Europe question the wisdom and legitimacy of the right to be forgotten.

  • "Nobody will ever convince me that a law forcing you to delete truthful news can exist," Biancardi told the Times.

What's at stake: The debate balances two important ideas — the understandable human desire to be able to start afresh against society's interest in keeping an accurate record of people's actions in the past.

Our thought bubble: The well-intentioned law aims to keep people's mistakes from living forever online. But at a time where we are having enough trouble learning the lessons of history, giving anyone the right to erase the past might cause more problems than it solves.

Go deeper

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.