The right to be forgotten

Article 19 writes:

Today, 23 November 2016 – ARTICLE 19, together with Human Rights Watch, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Open Net Korea, Derechos Digitales, Reporters sans Frontières, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and PEN International, intervened in a case at the Conseil d’Etat, ’s highest administrative court, concerning the worldwide application of a national concept of “the right to be forgotten”. We urged the Court to consider international standards on freedom of expression when reviewing the case.

The so-called “right to be forgotten” usually refers to the possibility of having certain results, produced from an online search of one’s name, delisted from search engine results pages. In its 2014 decision, the European Court of Justice stated this should be done when such search results are ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant’. Subsequently, adopted a practice of removing the contentious results from the European versions of their search engine, when they accepted delisting requests from users based in the EU. More recently, after the French regulatory authority for data protection (the CNIL) approved complaints from web users that the delisting was not sufficiently effective, Google decided to make contentious search results inaccessible to all web users located in French territory.

In a decision of 16 March 2016, the CNIL found the geolocation-based solution to implementing accepted delisting requests to be insufficient, and imposed a €100,000 fine on Google for restricting the removal of contentious results to only those web users based in France. In the CNIL’s view, the effective application of the “right to be forgotten” would require that the contentious search results be rendered unavailable to all web users, regardless of their location. In essence, this position is tantamount to having the French data protection authority determine what can be found on search engines worldwide.

The French decision is the worst in a long line of decisions.

First the European Court of Justice invented this right to be forgotten, which means the right to hide material on the Internet.

At first it applied just to European versions of Google – such as

Then they expanded it to all versions of Google, if someone is using a European IP address.

And finally the French authority declared that Google must remove mention of the material in every version of Google in every country.

Must be tempting for Google to just announce they are banning everyone in France from using any Google product until such stupid directives are repealed.

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