EU Regulators Want Google To Expand Right To Be Forgotten Worldwide And To Stop Telling What Links Have Been Forgotten
from the worldwide-censorship dept
We’ve been covering the ridiculous ruling in the EU on the “right to be forgotten,” which was interpreted to mean that search engines could be forced to delete links to perfectly truthful stories (and even if those stories are allowed to be kept online). Google has been trying to comply with the over 90,000 requests it has received — nearly half of which it has approved — and removed from its European searches. The company has been struggling to figure out how to comply with the ruling, and those struggles continue. Originally, it was going to place a notice on search results pages where links had been removed (like it does with copyright takedowns) alerting people that stories were missing. However, regulators told Google that would defeat the purpose. So now, Google’s European search results show a message on nearly every search on a “name” that results might have been removed.
Either way, once Google started removing the requested stories, it did the right thing, alerting the websites that links were being removed. Of course, that just resulted in many of those publications writing about it, and bringing the original news back into the public eye.
In response to all of this, European regulators are apparently quite angry again, summoning representatives from Google, Yahoo and Microsoft (but mainly Google) to argue that the removals should be global, not just for Europe and that the companies should stop informing websites if their stories were removed. One hopes that these three companies would fight strongly against either such proposal. The idea that Europe can dictate how search engines in other parts of the world work is dangerous. We’ve already noted that a Canadian court seems to think it has similar powers, and that’s going to create a huge mess. Any time courts and regulators in one country think they can dictate how websites work in other countries, that is creating a massive jurisdictional mess (where contradictory rulings may run into each other), as well as allowing oppressive states to claim they, too, have the right to dictate how the web works in more open countries.
As for blocking sites from being informed, that would clearly go against basic transparency principles, and lead to yet another huge mess for websites which will (quite reasonably) wonder why their stories have gone totally missing from Google searches (especially if forced to extend it around the globe).
Of course, the real problem here is with the original ruling. The idea that public information that is widely disseminated already can magically be made private because someone thinks it’s embarrassing and that it’s no longer important is simply a ridiculous assertion in the first place. All of the problems that have come in implementing this are because the initial premise — trying to disappear public information — is so messed up.