by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
privacy, spain


Google Fighting Spanish Law Requiring It To Remove Links Based On Privacy Claims

from the links-are-not-content dept

We've noted in the past that while the US tends to value free speech over privacy, Europe tends to lean the other way. Obviously, this is a generalization and it's not an absolute statement or true in all cases -- but generally speaking, that's how the two regions lean. This is now playing out in a lawsuit in Spain, where the Spanish government's data protection agency is demanding that Google remove links to websites that it says include privacy violations. Google is now fighting this effort in court, noting that it should not be held responsible for the content on other sites. It notes, quite reasonably, that if the content is objectionable or illegal then the only reasonable response is to target those who are actually responsible for it, rather than a search engine that links to it. Google points out in its lawsuit that European law says that publishers are responsible for their content and making a search engine liable goes against that. Of course, European law is actually somewhat vague on that point and in some countries it has been held that 3rd parties can be liable. That this creates tremendous chilling effects on free speech is just one of the many problems this causes.

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  1. icon
    alex (profile), 20 Jan 2011 @ 8:53am

    i know it's a can of worms but...

    I don't think it's black and white to say that you should be able to link to whatever you want. The "we don't host it, we just link to it" argument isn't sound. For example, if someone has a blog linking to copyright content hosted on one-click hosting sites (like rapidshare or megaupload), is that ok because they aren't actually hosting it? Is that actually the hosting site in the wrong?

    I think if Google have sufficient reason to believe they are linking to illegal material, they should be obliged to remove their links.

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