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Google sued over the “right to be forgotten”

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J-P Mauro - published on 02/28/18

Thanks to an EU court ruling, for some, what happens on the internet now doesn't need to stay on the internet.

In 2014 the European court ruled that people have the “right to be forgotten,” a landmark ruling that allowed European citizens to request that their personal information be “delisted” from search results. The majority of requests have come from private individuals, minors, corporate entities, politicians, and celebrities. Google has now taken on the tiresome task of answering each individual request.

For their part, Google must do their best to vet each case and make a fair decision based on the court ruling and what (or whom) it is still in the public’s best interest to keep searchable. This decision can be based on a wide range of factors, including whether the individual is private or a public figure, whether the information is personal or professional, criminal activity, and what kind of website the information appears on.

The requester then must present Google with explanations for how each link relates to them and why their searchability result is “irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.”Business Standard has a Google spokeswoman’s comment of the process:

“We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are clearly in the public interest and will defend the public’s right to access lawful information,” a Google spokeswoman said.

However, problems have arisen when rejected requesters don’t agree with Google’s decision. Two of these rejected parties have taken Google to the highest EU court in order to force the tech giant’s hand. The cases are not linked but they both are seeking to remove information about past convictions. Both parties have served their time and believe that the public’s access to this information prevents them from properly rejoining society.

Judge Nicklin, who will preside over the first trial, said in a pretrial ruling:

“[The cases concern an] area of the law in which two human rights come into conflict. The right to be forgotten is a dimension of the right to privacy and it conflicts with the right of freedom of expression.”

Google intends to fight both cases. Kent Walker, Google’s general counsel, said in a blog post, “[These lawsuits] represent a serious assault on the public’s right to access lawful information.”

Keep in mind that any information that becomes “delisted” is not taken off the internet; it is just removed from the Google search engine. As Google is the leader in its field, it is assumed that other search engines like Bing and Yahoo will follow Google’s decisions.

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