EU Right To Be Forgotten limited to Europe

A Google-appointed council argues that EU directive should be limited to Europe

A Google-appointed panel has concluded there is no need to implement the European Union’s (EU) right to be forgotten ruling outside of Europe.

The directive allows EU citizens to request the removal of search result links relating to them which are deemed to be “inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant”.

But Google’s advisory council released a 44-page report last week recommending that Google should limit the scope of the directive purely to European-based search services.

The mix of academics, lawyers and freedom of speech advocates like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales backed Google’s own view on the issue.

The report stated: “There is a competing interest on the part of users outside of Europe to access information via a name-based search in accordance with the laws of their country, which may be in conflict with the delistings [sic] afforded by the ruling.”

It added: “We believe that delistings [sic] applied to the European versions of search will, as a general rule, protect the rights of the data subject adequately in the current state of affairs and technology.”

It further noted that 95 per cent of European search engine users access local versions of Google’s search engine, according to the tech giant.

The conclusion contradicts EU privacy regulators’ guidelines, issued last year, outlining that links should be removed from all domains of a search engine.

An EU spokesperson said at the time: “Limiting de-listing to EU domains on the ground that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights [of people].”

However, there were disagreements within the council, with Wikipedia’s Wales and former German federal justice minister, Sabine Leuthesser-Schnarrenberger, summing up the opposing points of view.

Wales blasted the right to be forgotten in the report, calling it “confused and self-contradictory”, adding that a private company cannot be allowed to make decisions on what information is publically available.

Leuthesser-Schnarrenberger argued that search engines were the “the responsible body” to decide on such matters, adding that the directive should extend to non-EU search domains.

She said: “This is the only way to implement the court’s ruling, which implies a complete and effective protection of data subject’s [sic] rights.”


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