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The Right to be Forgotten is No Censorship

The Right to be Forgotten is No Censorship

In its landmark decision Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González of 13th May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) holds that:

1 – A search engine processes personal data;

2 – The search engine is a controller because it determines the purposes and means of the processing;

3 – When the processing is carried out by a corporation located in the EU, the directive applies;

What does that mean. So far, that means EU citizens or whoever based in the EU, could fill in a Google form to ask Google to remove the link to a content when inappropriate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive.

The term generally used, ‘the right to be forgotten’, can be misleading. During a recent online video debate iQ2, Intelligence Squared, invited two teams of experts to debate the extend ‘a’ right to be forgotten in the US. This debate clearly show the misunderstanding of the rule of the ECJ. I wrote a post on the ITSecurity web magazine, trying to clarify the meaning of the ruling.

It is important to understand their is no risk of censorship whatsoever as the content is not being removed. There is no attempt to free speech, All that is asked from the search engine Google is to ‘de-link’ the content from his search results. If someone wants to research the history, the website will have kept, if it wishes so, the information. What this right is doing is to re-establish a sort of trimming previously naturally operated by human memory. Can you imagine if you were to remember every single thing that happened in your life? How could anyone ever depart from a previous mistake if that mistake remains omni-present? This is a very crucial question for the new generation whose private lives are being disseminating everywhere online.

The human brain naturally ‘dissolves’ the facts to retain what is most relevant. In the digital era, information is indelible, spread at large scale at no cost, freely available. It is necessary to restaure the natural balance between privacy, the public interest to be informed and the right to be forgotten. This is exactly the mission devoted to search engines, main instrument of pointing users to available digital information.

As always, you can read all relevant opinions and publications on my Pearltrees under ‘Right to be forgotten’ (click on each square to access the website).

Updates :

Three years of striking the right (to be forgotten) balance.

Dutch DPA shares new data about the Right to be Forgotten

« Droit à l’oubli » : Google plaide pour la mise en balance des intérêts en présence

EU judges to tackle ‘right to be forgotten’ again

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the undersigned
news and journalism organizations write to express concerns regarding the notice given by CNIL to Google Inc. on May 21, 2015 ordering the company to apply new delisting requirements to all domains of the search engine and not merely to its domains in the European Union. In making its order public, CNIL referred specifically to its desire to “inform . . . content publishers . . . of the scope . . . of the right to obtain erasure of personal data.”1 It is in that spirit of dialogue that we offer these objections.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.