UK House Of Lords Condemns Right To Be Forgotten

Parliament UK

The House of Lords in the UK has little power in government or policy making except at the margins. Similarly, the British upper house’s recent condemnation of the European Right to Be Forgotten (RTBF) will have little practical impact in the UK or across Europe.

Still it’s a dissenting voice from within a European government. Most EU countries have been unanimous in their approval of RTBF.

A committee of the House of Lords called RTBF “unreasonable, unworkable and wrong.” According to an article in The Guardian the committee said the following:

[N]ot only was the ruling problematic, the 1995 directive it was based on is itself out-dated, and calls on the government to continue its fight to ensure that “the updated Regulation no longer includes any provision on the lines of the Commission’s ‘right to be forgotten’ or the European Parliament’s ‘right to erasure’”.

“It is crystal clear that the neither the 1995 Directive, nor the CJEU’s interpretation of it reflects the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the Directive was drafted,” said the committee chairman, Baroness Prashar.

The Lords were critical of RTBF because:

  • It doesn’t take into account the impact on smaller search engines that don’t have the resources of Google
  • RTBF is based on “vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria”
  • Search engines shouldn’t be left to interpret the rules for themselves. In particular Google should not be “sitting in judgment” about what information about individuals should remain and what should be removed from its index

In the material I saw there were no alternatives presented to address the underlying European privacy concern that animated the original court decision.

While this statement will gain coverage and fuel a debate in the UK and perhaps more broadly in Europe it carries no weight or official force and thus is mostly symbolic.

Image Credit: Wikipedia 

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