Quoted: Google refuses to comply with order to expand ‘right to be forgotten’

“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.”

Peter Fleischer, global privacy counsel for Google, in a blog post explaining why the company is fighting an order from the French data protection authority to apply the “right to be forgotten” standard around the world. In compliance with a 2014 ruling by Europe’s highest court, Google has been removing links from its search results for various reasons upon the request of individuals in Europe — but only on its sites with European domains.

Critics of the 2014 ruling predicted a slippery slope. Google has been under pressure to expand removal of the links because of complaints that links that are removed from some of its sites are still accessible from others — including google.com — with the French authority’s order coming in June. Google points out that expanding the right to be forgotten globally would present quite a problem because limits on speech vary throughout the world. The company is asking CNIL to withdraw its order.

Others have pushed for the expansion of the right to be forgotten. Michelle Quinn wrote earlier this month that California-based Consumer Watchdog says Google should also remove links from its search results in the United States. And a poll in March showed that 9 in 10 of Americans supported the idea.

Some of the search links Google has removed include content about a crime conviction that was later overturned, and mentions of a rape victim’s name. As of May, the company said it had removed 41 percent of the URLs it considered for removal.

In its order, CNIL said that if Google didn’t comply, the French authority would recommend sanctions.

 

Above: Google search screen grab

 

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