Right-to-Be-Forgotten Removals Should Apply To Google.com — EU Regulator


According to Reuters, European regulators say they’ve agreed on a uniform set of EU-wide rules and criteria that will be used to evaluate appeals under the “Right to Be Forgotten” (RTBF) law announced earlier this year by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice.

Google has received in excess of 120,00 RTBF requests since May. Many have been granted but many have not. Those denied are able to appeal the decision and that’s where these regulatory criteria will be applied (presumably they will also inform Google and Bing’s decision making).

The rules will seek to balance individual privacy with the public right to know.

The specifics of the rules won’t be finalized until November. However Reuters suggests they will primarily take into account “factors such as the public role of the person, whether the information relates to a crime and how old it is.” There’s still considerable ambiguity in some of these areas.

Google has adopted a practice of notifying publishers when RTBF links are removed. Apparently regulators don’t like this practice (probably because it puts “political” pressure on them amid cries of censorship or objections from the publishers). On this point Reuters quotes Johannes Caspar, who is Germany’s data protection chief:

“There might be single, outstanding cases where involving the publisher might be appropriate. But to do so systematically is undue.”

Google currently only removes the subject links and material from the individual country Google site where the request was made (e.g., Google.fr, Google.de) but not from Google.com. Germany’s Caspar reportedly believes that these RTBF removals should be expunged globally.

“The effect of removing search results should be global. This is in the spirit of the court ruling and the only meaningful way to act in a global environment like the Internet,” argued Johannes Caspar according to Reuters. 

However that’s unlikely to happen and would effectively be extending European law and jurisdiction across the globe.

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