House of Lords committee slams “right to be forgotten”


The British House of Lords has slammed the recent “right to be forgotten” ruling by the court of justice of the European Union, deeming it “unworkable” and “wrong in principle”.

The Lords’ Home Affairs, Health and Education EU Sub-Committee stated in a report on the ruling, published Wednesday, that: “It ignores the effect on smaller search engines which, unlike Google, may not have the resources to consider individually large numbers of requests for the deletion of links.”

The committee added that: “It is wrong in principle to leave to search engines the task of deciding many thousands of individual cases against criteria as vague as ‘particular reasons, such as the role played by the data subject in public life’. We emphasise again the likelihood that different search engines would come to different and conflicting conclusions on a request for deletion of links.”

The ruling from May this year forces search engines, like Google, to remove links to articles found to be outdated or “irrelevant” at the request of individuals, even if the information in them is true and factual and without the original source material being altered. Following this, Google introduced a removal form which received some 70,000 requests within two months.

The Lords committee recommends, among other things, that the “government should persevere in their stated intention of ensuring that the Regulation no longer includes any provision on the lines of the Commission’s ‘right to be forgotten'”.

Index on Censorship has repeatedly spoken out against the ruling, stating that it “violates the fundamental principles of freedom of expression“, is “a retrograde move that misunderstands the role and responsibility of search engines and the wider internet” and “a blunt instrument ruling that opens the door for widespread censorship and the whitewashing of the past”.

This article was posted on July 30, 2014 at