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Google should not apply 'right to be forgotten' on .com domain, advisory council says

Loek Essers | Feb. 9, 2015
Conflicting explanations of a court ruling may lead to further legal struggles.

"Given this background, we believe that delistings applied to the European versions of search will, as a general rule, protect the rights of the data subject adequately in the current state of affairs and technology," said the council's majority report.

Though delisting results on the .com domain would ensure a more absolute protection of a person's rights, the majority of the council found that there are competing interests that outweigh the additional protection afforded.

Users outside of Europe should for instance be able to access information via a name-based search in accordance with the laws of their country, which may conflict with the EU ruling.

What's more, while it is technically possible to prevent Internet users in Europe from accessing search results on the .com domain, the council has concerns about the precedent set by such measures. Repressive regimes might point to such a precedent in an effort to lock their users into heavily censored versions of search results, they said.

The council was divided on the issue though. "According to my opinion the removal request comprises all domains, and must not be limited to EU-domains. This is the only way to implement the Court's ruling," former Minister of Justice for Germany Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said in a personal comment in the report. "The internet is global, the protection of the user's rights must also be global," she said.

These conflicting explanations of the scope of the ruling are likely to lead to more legal fights later this year, if European privacy authorities try to force Google to comply with their view of what the ruling meant to say.

 

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