Google To French Regulators Looking To Expand 'Right To Be Forgotten' Globally: Forget About It

from the forget-you dept

Earlier this summer we wrote about some ridiculous demands coming out of France, asking that Google expand the "right to be forgotten" globally. As you hopefully already know, last year, a European court came out with a troubling ruling that required Google into a sort of "right to be forgotten" situation, where links associated with someone's name that were magically deemed no longer relevant, needed to be "de-linked." Google reluctantly complied, and has since been busy de-linking many individuals from totally factual news stories about them. But, given that this was the law in Europe, it only did so in Europe.

That resulted in the complaint from France -- to which Google has now responded by saying it will not comply with a global right to be forgotten, because the results would be catastrophic for free speech and the open internet:
This is a troubling development that risks serious chilling effects on the web.

While the right to be forgotten may now be the law in Europe, it is not the law globally. Moreover, there are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be “gay propaganda."

If the [French regulator's] proposed approach were to be embraced as the standard for Internet regulation, we would find ourselves in a race to the bottom. In the end, the Internet would only be as free as the world’s least free place.

We believe that no one country should have the authority to to control what content someone in a second country can access. We also believe this order is disproportionate and unnecessary, given that the overwhelming majority of French internet users—currently around 97%—access a European version of Google’s search engine like google.fr, rather than Google.com or any other version of Google.
I can't see into the future, but I'll take a wild guess and suggest that the French regulators aren't going to just back down following this response, no matter how reasonable and rational it is. European regulators continue to seem to think the internet can be twisted, censored and molded in their own interest, and don't seem to understand just how badly that will backfire. It's likely that this simple explanation will fall on deaf ears and there will soon be a big fight over this. Stay tuned.
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Filed Under: censorship, europe, france, free speech, global, right to be forgotten
Companies: google


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