Thursday

22nd Aug 2019

Google urged to stick to European court privacy ruling

  • Google has recieved 120,000 requests to remove names from its search engine (Photo: Carlos Luna)

Privacy campaigners are urging Google to respect a European court ruling on the "right to be forgotten" as the Internet giant tours European capitals to debate the issue.

Google chief Eric Schmidt in Italy on Wednesday (10 September) moderated the second leg of the Google advisory council, a panel of eight experts appointed by the firm to help it implement the controversial verdict.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Luxembourg-based EU court in May concluded it was reasonable to ask Google to amend searches based on a person’s name if the data is irrelevant, out of date, inaccurate, or an invasion of privacy.

The original content remains untouched and can still be found online via Google (or any other search engine) by typing in different search terms.

The court also said it is up to Google, or any other search engine, to handle the requests itself.

“There are complicated issues at stake in the requests that we are receiving and we need to balance the right of information against an individual’s right to privacy,” said Schmidt.

The debate is intensifying in the run-up to the publication of a working document by European data protection regulators on how the search engines need to handle the requests.

Privacy campaigners on Tuesday complained some media have misunderstood or distorted the court’s ruling in favour of Google.

In an open letter to the Google’s advisory council, around a dozen pro-privacy NGOs note the case is not about the "right to be forgotten", a term they point out was never used in the court’s judgement.

“The media coverage created the mistaken impression that Google would have to start deleting information from the internet (or its own index) whenever EU citizens asked the search engine to do so,” says the letter .

They note that Google, on its own initiative, already removes content, de-indexes links, and regularly alters search results to comply with various domestic US copyright laws.

Last year, the company pulled 214 million links from its search engine out of a total of 235 million requests, according to Brussels-based European Digital Rights (EDRi)

“This has become a campaign against European data protection,” EDRi’s head told this website over the summer.

Since the May ruling, Google has fielded around 120,000 requests to remove the names of people in search results, sparking debates on freedom of expression and the right to privacy.

“Frankly, we need some help on these decisions. We didn’t ask to be appointed the decision-maker, we were ordered to be the decision-maker, and I have publically said that I did not particularly like that order,” noted Schmidt.

Google can reject the requests and refer the issue to national data protection authorities.

Reuters reports 90 such appeals have been filed in Britain, 70 in Spain, 20 in France and 13 in Ireland.

Panellist Luciano Floridi, professor of philosophy and ethics of information at the University of Oxford, asked “should we trust a private company running the search engine to operate on the links or should we trust a governmental agency to decide about these links?".

Also invited to the debate, Massimo Russo, chief editor at Wired Italia magazine, argued the rights of individuals should not prevail over the interest of the Internet user.

“Most content on social networks and social media should be deleted altogether if this opinion prevails, so the key issue is the public interest,” he warned.

Belgium's EU commission hopeful in free press row

Didier Reynders, Belgium's EU commissioner hopeful and foreign minister backed bill that could sentence whistle-blowers to five years in prison and fine journalists up to €5,000.

Investigation

EU may extend 'passenger name records' to rail and sea

Documents reveal that EU states are considering broadening requirements on keeping passenger records, currently only applicable to air carriers, to providers of other modes of transport.

Stalling on VAT reform costing billions, says Commission

German media outlet Correctiv, along with other newsrooms, have revealed how criminals annually cheat EU states out of billions in VAT fraud. The EU Commission says solutions exist - but member states refuse to budge on tax unanimity.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Open Arms may face fine in Spain 
  2. Belgium's EU commission hopeful in free press row
  3. Conte turns on Salvini, as Italy prepares for change
  4. Nordic-German climate action signals broader alliance
  5. The EU committee's great 'per diem' charade
  6. Spain calls for legal action against Italy on migrants
  7. Trump to meet Greenland leader in Denmark
  8. Irish border plan is 'anti-democratic', Johnson tells EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us