Index reiterates its concern at the ruling on the so-called “right to be forgotten” and its implications for free speech and access to information. Index urges the court to put a stay on its ruling while it pursues a regulatory framework that will provide legal oversight, an appeals process and ensure that private corporations are not the arbiters of public information.
While it is clearly understandable that individuals should want to be able to control their online presence, the court’s ruling fails to offer sufficient checks and balances to ensure that a desire to alter search requests so that they reflect a more “accurate” profile does not simply become a mechanism for censorship and whitewashing of history.
Issued without a clearly defined structure to police the requests, the court ruling has outsourced what should be the responsibility of publicly accountable bodies to private corporations who are under no obligations to protect human rights or act in public interest. Index will be monitoring very closely the processes and procedures used by Google and others to make decisions.
Although Google has devised an advisory committee to support its decision-making, the fact remains that we are in a situation in which search engines will be making decisions about what is deemed “irrelevant and inappropriate” – and a situation that fails to take into account the fact that information deemed “irrelevant” now may become extremely relevant in future.
Index urges the court to go back and reconsider its directions to search engines. It must devise a clear structure for managing requests that balances the public’s right to information, freedom of expression and privacy rights.
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Both Google and the European Union are funders of Index on Censorship