After a tax scandal in France and a EU resolution requesting Google to break up its commercial operations across Europe, Google faces now a new challenge. On Wednesday a group representing privacy regulators from 28 member states released a new set of rules on how Google should apply “the right to be forgotten” across European territory.
“The right to be forgotten”, also called “the right to be de-linked” was reminded to Google in May when the US internet company lost a suit at the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Back then, the company was forced to respect a Spanish man’s right to get some of his confidential data removed from the internet.
Since May, Google has been complying with the ruling by removing several people’s data upon request but only on European web domains, for instance .uk or .fr. However, now the group of European privacy regulators – Article 29 Working Party – wants Google to extend the right to be forgotten to all search domains, including .com domain. This means that a European citizen will be “forgotten” on all sites, in all of the world’s countries, not just in Europe.
The Article 29 Working Party’s new rules on how to apply the CJEU ruling were not welcomed in the US, since there seems to be a certain conflict between EU’s right for privacy and the US’s right for freedom of speech (or the First Amendment).
In a joint letter, Democrat and Republican representatives said they started to doubt EU’s commitment to open markets since the new rules especially targeted US technology companies.
“This and similar proposals build walls rather than bridges [and] do not appear to give full consideration to the negative effect such policies may have on the broader US-EU trade relationship,”
the US officials wrote in the letter.
They also warned that these European efforts are mainly motivated by politics.
When learning that Google will extend the right to be de-linked outside EU borders, the general public had also different views on the matter – privacy promoters said Google undermined the ruling by limiting the right to be forgotten’s range of application, while free speech promoters said the new rules were a clear step toward global Internet censorship.
Another hot issue is related to Google sending notifications to websites when their content was removed from search results. Article 29 Working Party is totally against it since it hadn’t been specified in the CJEU’s ruling. Additionally, it could help third parties to track the people who requested the content removal.
Google said it was the right of website owners to know what happened to their content and be able to appeal the measures. While Article 29 Working Party recently said:
“We are dealing with competing fundamental human rights. There’s no need for notifications – this is not a court with two sides”
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