Google contests global ‘right to be forgotten’ order

2 Aug 2015 | Author: | Comments 2 »

France Wants EU’s Right to Be Forgotten to Apply in Global Search Results.

Brussels: Google Inc is refusing to bow to an order from the French privacy watchdog to scrub search results worldwide when users invoke their “right to be forgotten” online, it said on Thursday, exposing itself to possible fines. Google said Thursday it would not comply with a French privacy regulator’s order to enact the “right to be forgotten” across non-European versions of the site.

The French data protection authority, the CNIL, in June ordered the search engine group to de-list on request search results appearing under a person’s name from all its websites, including Google.com. In a statement posted late Thursday, Google said bowing to CNIL’s request would force it also to agree to similar requests worldwide from any government that doesn’t agree with how the company posts content. ”The Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place,” the company wrote on its Europe policy blog. In Europe, Google must remove search listings about individuals if they can prove the links reveal out-of-date or inflammatory content about them, under a European Union court ruling from last year. The CNIL wanted the American company to widen its implementation of the so-called European ‘right to be forgotten.’ In its current implementation, Google only delists results from the Google.fr and other European TLDs, and the CNIL wants global delistings.

It said search engines must take down links to information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” upon request, as long as there are no good reasons to keep them in its results. In May 2014, a European ruling stated that search engines had to process requests from individuals wanting outdated, inaccurate or irrelevant information delisted from a search result for their name.

However, it has limited removals to its European websites, such as Google.de in Germany or Google.fr in France, arguing that over 95 per cent of searches made from Europe are done through local versions of Google. This leads to a tension between those who want to see national laws respected in the countries where they apply, and those who see international enforcement as the only way to make that happen. Instead of delisting search results from all versions of Google’s results, the company only delisted these requests from European Union TLDs, such as Google.fr, Google.de, etc. In arguing against the regulator, Google said that setting a global law from one country could eventually allow other countries with histories of censorship to stretch their legal arms abroad. “Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be ‘gay propaganda,’” Fleischer wrote.

Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others … The Article 29 Working Party, the umbrella group for EU data protection regulators, wrote in November that “limiting delisting to EU domains on the grounds that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient mean to satisfactorily guarantee the [privacy] rights of data subjects.” However, a Google-convened panel of privacy experts said in February that the rights of EU citizens had to be balanced with those of people in other countries, who may have the right to see the offending information under their own national laws. The CNIL said it would give Google 15 days to comply after sending a notice in mid-June, after which it would begin the process of imposing sanctions. However, European regulators and some legal experts think Google ought to apply the ruling globally as it is too easy to circumvent it by switching from one version of Google to another.

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