Google Fighting New Right To Be Forgotten Proposal - InformationWeek

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Government // Open Government
01:10 PM

Google Fighting New Right To Be Forgotten Proposal

A French commission believes delisting from Google search engines should be carried out across all versions of the search engine. Unsurprisingly, Google disagrees.

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In response to a formal request sent to Google in June by France's Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), which ordered the search giant to apply delisting on all domain names of the search engine, the search engine giant has asked CNIL to withdraw the notice.

The right to be forgotten -- RTBF -- a concept discussed and put into practice in the European Union (EU) and Argentina since 2006, is a complicated notion involving the right to privacy, freedom of expression, and a sort of statute of limitations on the use, or misuse, of private information regarding past actions.

In May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union announced its recognition of delisting, which grants any individual the right of removal of one or more results displayed following a search made on the basis of his or her name.

Following a request for removal, the search engine then reviews the request and grants it if the legal conditions are met.

Google argues that under the approach recently advanced by CNIL, the Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place, and said it "respectfully disagrees" with the organization's assertion of global authority on this issue.

(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)

(Image: Jason Doiy/iStockphoto)

From CNIL's point of view, the current request stems from the hundreds of complaints it received following Google's refusals to carry out delisting on Internet links.

The CNIL also noted if Google does not comply with the formal notice within the fifteen days after its issuance, the president of the organization would be in position to draft a report recommending the committee in charge of violations of French data protection law to impose a sanction to the company.

According to Google's own transparency report, the company has received more than 250,000 individual requests concerning one million URLs in the past year, and has delisted from name search results just over 40% of the URLs that it has reviewed.

[Read about the problems with a lousy database.]

"While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally," Peter Fleischer, Google's global privacy counsel, wrote on the company's Europe Blog on July 30. "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. If the CNIL's proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world's least free place."

This is not the first time Google has been the subject of RTBF politics. In May, a group of 80 Internet academics challenged Google to be more forthcoming as to how it removes information about individuals from cyberspace.

The consortium implored the search giant to find a balance between individual privacy and public discourse interests, and claimed the public deserves to know how Google's standards for requests are developing.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
8/19/2015 | 11:07:47 AM
Re: The US government should support Google
If there are cases where the RTBF exists then they need to be supported for everyone. This really depends on if we are talking about criminals trying to mask recent behavior or someone trying to get a the results of a wild spring break off the internet. Before we decide to support either the EU or Google, I'd want to know a bit more about how they determine if there is a RTBF. I know there is a knee jerk reaction of taking down any  content as a freedom of speech violation, but we have now entered a time where everything a person does might end up online. Everyone has embarrasing moments. and many poeple do things they regret a few years later. As much as I try to instill proper behavior in my kids I'd like to hope that something stupid they do when they are young won't be around to haunt them later which is where RTBF comes in handy. This is about balancing the freedom of speech and being decent human beings to other people by letting them remove revenge porn, cyber bullying and other acts by horrible people.
User Rank: Ninja
8/9/2015 | 6:37:43 PM
Re: The US government should support Google
I think there are some situations where Right To Be Forgotten is imporant. 

Yet for the most part this concept is probably not being used for the right purposes. There are certainly some rare instances where something like this shoud be implemented for a person. But to make it a right for everyone sounds a bit extreme to me. 
User Rank: Apprentice
8/6/2015 | 8:17:57 PM
The US government should support Google
What unbridled arrogance of the EU to assert that its censorship of search results is more justified worldwide than the censorship imposed by Russia, China or North Korea. If any European country imposes sanctions on Google for refusing to participate in worldwide censorship of the Internet, the US should impose economic sanctions on that country.
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