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Right to be Forgotten Should Apply Only in Europe, Says Google

A Google-appointed panel has said that the implementation of the ‘Right to be Forgotten’ ruling should apply only in Europe and not the rest of the world.

Google had to begin complying with a ruling last year from the European Court (EC) of Justice to remove specific results for search terms if requested to do so.

The company has been doing this, but only in European nations which it believes are covered by the ruling.

However, the European Commission said later in the year that the ruling should be applied to the rest of the world, which would include Google’s .com domain.

In response, an eight-strong panel convened by Google, which took evidence from various commentators and publishers around Europe, said that it believes the ruling must apply only in Europe. 

“Given concerns of proportionality and practical effectiveness it concludes that
removal from nationally directed versions of Google’s search services within the EU is the appropriate means to implement the ruling at this stage,” the panel said in the report (PDF).

The conclusion is unsurprising, given that this is undoubtedly what Google wants. Nevertheless, Google is likely to use the report as part of its lobbying efforts to force the EC to back down.

Whether this works remains to be seen, as some European politicians are already rounding on Google for its intensive lobbying on the topic.

The authors of the report include Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, Frank La Rue, a UN special rapporteur on the rights of freedom of opinion and expression, and Luciano Floridi, professor of philosophy and ethics information at the University of Oxford.

Wales made his feelings plain in the report that the law is unworkable and needs a radical overhaul.

“I completely oppose the legal situation in which a commercial company is forced to become the judge of our most fundamental rights of expression and privacy, without allowing any appropriate procedure for appeal by publishers whose works are being suppressed,” he said.

“The European Parliament needs to immediately amend the law to provide for appropriate judicial oversight, and with strengthened protections for freedom of expression.

“Until this time, the recommendations to Google contained in this report are deeply flawed due to the law itself being deeply flawed.”

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