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The right to be forgotten – the empire strikes back



Posted: August 5th, 2014

In July we reported on the so called, “right to be forgotten” EU ruling.  The ruling states that everyone has the right to wipe their digital slate clean.  The EU acted after a Spanish European citizen, “Mario Costeja Gonzalez” found that the first Google search result of his name displayed a story from 1998 about his property being repossessed.  Mario felt this was no longer representative of his financial situation and wanted the link removed.  The EU Court of Justice agreed and ordered Google and other internet search providers to make provisions for removing non relevant results that could stigmatise people.

Enter the House of Lords
The UK House of Lords is in total disagreement with the EU ruling and have gone public on the matter.  They have gone as far as saying the ruling is “unworkable”, “wrong in principle” and an “unreasonable situation” to force internet businesses into.

The Lords EU sub-committee consulted with data protection representatives the ICO (the Information Commissioner’s Office), who feel the recent ruling “doesn’t reflect the advancement in technology that we see today”.

The Lord’s committee believes internet search providers should not become censors of the web.  It is not the responsibility of the provider to remove results.  The committee also believe that people do not have the right to have factual law abiding results removed from search engines purely because they do not like what it said.

Google struggling
Google have been very vocal about how they have been placed in a difficult situation.  Each of the 90,000 requests to date (40,000 more since our last article) to be removed from the results list, has to be individually reviewed by Google’s legal team.  The problem is that people are taking a punt by requesting any embarrassing or shaming information to be removed, resulting in a huge volume of applications to be reviewed.
This is a huge burden to place on internet search providers – a burden that both Google and the House of Lords feel should not be placed on these businesses.

September meetings
Despite the feedback, the House of Lords are not backing down as they feel the financial strain on businesses to remove the search results is wrong in principle.  Google’s advisory council are teaming up with technology A-listers in Europe to hold public meetings throughout September, addressing the implications of the right to be forgotten ruling.

We’re sure as time goes on, this controversial topic will continue to make the headlines.  We will keep you updated on the “right to be forgotten” ruling and any subsequent updates following the September meetings.

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