By Kirsten Fiedler
On 9 September, European and international civil rights organisations submitted an open letter (pdf) to Google’s Advisory Council on their assessment of the so-called “right to be forgotten”.
The groups urge the Council’s members to avoid inadvertently delaying the adoption of the data protection reform package. They remind the members of the urgent need for legal safeguards in cases where courts place unclear obligations on internet intermediaries to interfere with online communications (which cannot be replaced by the Council’s findings) and call on them to shed more light on the mission and objectives of this European tour.
As the ruling has been largely misrepresented by parts of the press, the letter first clarifies some of the misunderstandings that have circulated about the context and scope of the ruling:
When the CJEU ruled on the case, the press reported the decision as an example of a new “right to be forgotten,” even though such a right is not articulated in the legislation on which the ruling is based. The media coverage created the mistaken impression that Google would have to start deleting information from the internet (or its own index) whenever an EU citizens asked the search engine to do so, if information was irrelevant, inaccurate, outdated or excessive. The court specified that search results based on a person’s name are to be removed if the request meets the criteria laid out in the ruling. However, not only will the information remain on the internet, but it will remain in Google’s index.
The civil rights organisations then emphasise the need for a quick conclusion of the current data protection reform, not least because the Snowden revelations have shown that strong and reliable rules are crucial for citizens’ rights to privacy and data protection:
This need has been acknowledged by several companies, including Google, through their participation in the movement for global government surveillance reform. This movement recognises the need for governments to take action in order to protect their citizens’ safety and security and advises for the review of current laws and practices.
The full letter can be accessed here: https://edri.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Open-Letter-to-Google-Advisory-Council.pdf
Bits of Freedom
Chaos Computer Club (CCC)
European Digital Rights (EDRi)
Initiative für Netzfreiheit
EDRi: Google’s right to be forgotten – industrial scale misinformation? (09.06.2014)
EDRi: Google and the right to be forgotten – the truth is out there (02.07.2014)
EDRi: Good Lord! Lords forget their own right to be forgotten analysis (31.07.2014)
EDRi: Google now supports AND opposes the “right to be forgotten” (27.08.2014)