Published: Thu, September 13, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

European Court To Rule On 'Right To Be 'Forgotten' 09/11/2018

European Court To Rule On 'Right To Be 'Forgotten' 09/11/2018

While Google will argue its case before the European Union court on Tuesday, a ruling is not expected until later this year.

Google isn't alone in arguing that deleting search results may equate to censorship.

Google - which now makes its own decisions about whether to remove material - said that approving such applications would ignore the legitimate interests of the public.

Microsoft and groups like the Internet Freedom Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation intervened in Tuesday's hearing, as well as legal representatives for France, Ireland, Greece, Austria and Poland. The right to be forgotten law is particularly thorny, given that a right to access information is also a basic tenet of free speech.

The court ruled in his favour, saying material that was "inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive" should be delisted on request.

"European data regulators should not be allowed to decide what internet users around the world find when they use a search engine".

Since the 2014 ruling, Google has had close to 723,000 requests and has agreed to remove the links in 44pc of the cases.

Since the ECJ's 2014 ruling, Google said it has handled nearly 722,000 applications to remove a total of 2.75 million web addresses, almost 90 percent of which were filed by private individuals.

It has complied with less than half (44%).

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France's Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertes wants the court to clarify whether the delisting should extend beyond the French version of Google's search engine to all versions across the world.

As well as affecting other search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, the judgement could also affect social networks.

Google's position remains unchanged from 2015 when lawyer Kent Walk said in a blogpost: "No one country should be able to impose its rules on the citizens of another country, especially when it comes to linking to lawful content".

Article 19, a coalition of global human rights organisations aptly named after the free speech clause in the UN's universal declaration of human rights have called the plans "disproportionate".

"The CJEU must limit the scope of the right to be forgotten in order to protect the right of internet users around the world to access information online".

"This case could see the right to be forgotten threatening global free speech", Thomas Hughes, the executive director of the freedom-of-expression group Article 19, said.

Google's arguments received some support from newspapers, who have often battled the search engine in Europe on other issues.

The law does, however, provide a protection for storing data that might be in the public interest, such as information about a politician.

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