Google re­jects ‘right to be for­got­ten’ de­mand

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Google on Thurs­day re­jected a French de­mand to glob­ally ap­ply the so-called right to be for­got­ten, which re­quires the com­pany to re­move links to cer­tain in­for­ma­tion about users if asked.

It was re­spond­ing to a call by France’s na­tional data pro­tec­tion au­thor­ity, CNIL, to glob­ally im­ple­ment a May 2014 rul­ing by the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice (ECJ) that al­lows peo­ple to ask search en­gines to delist links with per­sonal in­for­ma­tion about them.

The rul­ing ap­plies when the online in­for­ma­tion is deemed “in­ac­cu­rate, in­ad­e­quate, ir­rel­e­vant or ex­ces­sive.”

“While the right to be for­got­ten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law glob­ally,” Google’s global pri­vacy coun­sel Peter Fleis­cher said in a blog post.

“We be­lieve that no one coun­try should have the au­thor­ity to con­trol what con­tent some­one in a sec­ond coun­try can ac­cess.”

In its post, Google branded the French re­quest “a trou­bling de­vel­op­ment that risks se­ri­ous chill­ing ef­fects on the web.”

“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,” it added.

Google said it had eval­u­ated and pro­cessed more than a quar­ter of a mil­lion re­quests to delist links to more than a mil­lion web pages since the ECJ’s rul­ing.

The over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of French in­ter­net users — 97 per­cent — ac­cessed Google via a Euro­pean ver­sion Fleis­cher added.

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‘Re­spect­fully dis­agree’

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Fol­low­ing sev­eral hun­dred re­quests from French users, CNIL told Google in June it should ap­ply the rul­ing glob­ally and re­move links from the whole of its net­work — not just from google.fr and other Euro­pean sites.

“As a mat­ter of prin­ci­ple ... we re­spect­fully dis­agree with the CNIL’s as­ser­tion of global au­thor­ity on this is­sue and we have asked the CNIL to with­draw its For­mal No­tice,” Google said.

Google has be­come a light­ning rod for crit­ics in Europe on a broad range of is­sues from pri­vacy to the pro­tec­tion of na­tional pub­lish­ers.

The Wikipedia in­for­ma­tion web­site has de­scribed the Euro- pean rul­ing as cre­at­ing “mem­ory holes” in the In­ter­net, while crit­ics of the U.S. In­ter­net gi­ant have said such stan­dards are nec­es­sary to pro­tect the pri­vacy of cit­i­zens.

Con­tacted by AFP, CNIL con­firmed it had re­ceived Google’s re­sponse, which came a day be­fore a month-long dead­line it had given the search gi­ant to make changes in ad­her­ence with the law.

“We are go­ing to look at the ar­gu­ments and we will re­spond to this sub­mis­sion within two months,” a CNIL rep­re­sen­ta­tive said, re­fus­ing to rule out pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial sanc­tions.

Google could face a fine of up 150,000 eu­ros (US$164,000), a fig­ure that is dwarfed how­ever by the firm’s US$66 bil­lion in world­wide rev­enues last year.

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