The right for individuals “to be forgotten” online that is now applicable as a rule in the European Union has the possibility of being implemented globally.
A ruling on this is being expected in 2019 from the European Court of Justice which is currently hearing evidence on the case.
But according to arguments put forward by Google, in regimens that are “less democratic,” extension of this rule can become a tool for censoring the online medium.
On the other hand, Google has been accused of not conforming to the rule of online users to their right to get their online information erased according to France’s regulator.
The case is being heard in Luxemburg since this week where arguments and evidence from over 70 stakeholders would be examined by a panel of 15 judges.
After the case of Spaniard Mario Costeja, who managed to convince European courts that Google should delete his outdated details of financial circumstances, the right to be forgotten was transformed into a law in the EU in 2014.
Information deemed “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” should be delisted, the ECJ had ruled at the time.
Such content can no longer be searched through online searches using the name of an individual even though the content still remains online.
But the regulators were angered over Google’s lack of complete compliance with the judgement because the search engine – evidently not pleased by the judgement, only delisting requests on local country domains.
And since that case and the implementation of the rule, 700,000 requests to delist information has been received by Google which essentially amounts to delisting requests of 2.7 million web addresses.
The company has till now completed about 44% of the request under the new law.
France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes has requested the ECJ to ascertain whether the action of delisting of older information that is applicable to French version of Google’s search engine should be extended to other parts of the world as well.
Social networks, in addition to other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo, would lso get affected by the ruling.
In official position of Google on this issue has been maintained since 2015 when its lawyer Kent Walk wrote in a blogspot: “No one country should be able to impose its rules on the citizens of another country, especially when it comes to linking to lawful content. Adopting such a rule would encourage other countries, including less democratic regimes, to try to impose their values on citizens in the rest of the world.”
A large number of human rights and media organisations are also backing the search engine giant.
The company is expected to request the Luxembourg court to “limit the scope of the right to be forgotten”.
“European data regulators should not be allowed to decide what internet users around the world find when they use a search engine,” Thomas Hughes, executive director of Article 19 – one of the organizations supporting the position of Google, said.
“If European regulators can tell Google to remove all references to a website, then it will be only a matter of time before countries like China, Russia and Saudi Arabia start to do the same.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)