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Index blasts EU court ruling on “right to be forgotten”

By Index on Censorship / 13 May, 2014

Today’s decision from the Court of Justice of the European Union violates the fundamental principles of freedom of expression.

The court’s ruling means that, under certain circumstances, information can be removed from search engine results even if it is true and factual and without the original source material being altered. It allows individuals to complain to search engines about information they do not like with no legal oversight. This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to pulp books. Although the ruling is intended for private individuals it opens the door to anyone who wants to whitewash their personal history.

By placing the onus on search engines to prevent dissemination of information, the Court has said that an individual’s desires outweigh society’s interest in the complete facts around incidents.

The ruling goes against the finding last year of the EU advocate general who said there was no “right to be forgotten”.

The Court’s decision is a retrograde move that misunderstands the role and responsibility of search engines and the wider internet. It should send chills down the spine of everyone in the European Union who believes in the crucial importance of free expression and freedom of information.

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4 Responses to Index blasts EU court ruling on “right to be forgotten”

  1. Toby Richards Reply

    16 May at 06:29

    Stephen Smith, how are you going to feel when Google.com continues to index this information from a server farm in California for the rest of the world to see but blocks your UK IP address from accessing it? Forcing you to the edited and redacted Google.co.uk instead? Maybe it will feel more like the appalling concorship it actually is. I don’t need anybody else to tell me what web content is relevant. They won’t know what it is I’m looking for. If the information legally exists, it strikes me as an interferance of my freedoms to be denied assistance in finding it.

  2. Pierre Dowing Reply

    15 May at 23:35

    “The Right to be Forgotten”… it’s got a nice ring to it. Too bad the ruling is complete rubbish. Not only is it a bureaucratic nightmare with too much grey area as to what constitutes outdated information, but it flies in the very face of what is free speech. Here’s an idea of what’s circulating in today’s news – http://www.pressreader.com/profile/Media_Mentions/bookmarks/right_to_be_forgotten – surprising lack of insight, but good information if you’re looking for a place to start your research.

  3. Stephen Smith Reply

    13 May at 20:17

    “This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to pulp books.”
    If a book has information about me that I no longer want to be part of the public domain, I should have the right to have it removed from the public domain regardless of format.

    “…the Court has said that an individual’s desires outweigh society’s interest in the complete facts around incidents.”
    This is the root of the problem, there is no need for society to have interest in the workings of me. My rights supersede the rights of society to know anything about me other than what I am willing to divulge.

    If you agenda here is to prevent businesses from removing contentious information in the hopes of deceiving the general public then make that statement and move on. Making this look like it is a slippery slope to a free for all on all information is somewhat misleading and speaks to an inherent bias.

  4. Greg Smith Reply

    13 May at 16:16

    It does not open it up to “anyone” as suggested, to whitewash their personal history. If it’s in the public interest, such as with a public figure, etc., then the content may be worthy of retention. However, private citizens have a right to privacy.

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