House Of Lords Slams EU ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Ruling

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cobweb door right to be forgotten old security lock © Mr Doomits Shutterstock

European ruling on ‘right to be forgotten’ is unworkable, says House of Lords

The House of Lords has hit out at the European court ruling requiring search engines to carry out ‘right to be forgotten’ requests.

In an extraordinary attack on one of Europe’s highest courts, the House of Lords said that its ruling requiring search engines to remove search results for people who requested it, was “unreasonable”, “unworkable” and “wrong”.

Google censorship forget right to be forgotten © Gustavo Frazao ShutterstockUnreasonable Ruling

The criticisms came in a report from the Lord’s EU subcommittee on Home Affairs, Health and Education.

The report issued a damning assessment of the current state of affairs, after the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ruled in May that search engine operators were responsible for links to web pages that contain personal information. It ruled that Google and others must remove such links on request of the information owners.

A reluctant Google posted an online form for people wishing to request the removal of links about themselves, and quickly found itself swamped with ‘right to be forgotten’ requests. Google said that most of those requests come from people citing links to articles about fraud or scams, or arrests or convictions for serious offences.

Google and Facebook have long been opponents of this measure, arguing that it amounts to little more than online censorship.

And it seems the House of Lords agrees, after its report heavily criticised the court of justice of the European Union for its ruling.

Judge And Jury

The committee argued that the ruling is flawed because the 1995 directive upon which it was based on is itself out-dated. It also argued that it is not right to order a commercial search engine company to sit in judgement and effectively be the “data controller”.

“It is clear to us that neither the 1995 Directive, nor the Court’s interpretation of the Directive, reflects the current state of communications service provision, where global access to detailed personal information has become part of the way of life,” said the report.

“It is no longer reasonable or even possible for the right to privacy to allow data subjects a right to remove links to data which are accurate and lawfully available,” it warned. “We agree with the Government that the ‘right to be forgotten’ as it is in the Commission’s proposal … must go. It is misguided in principle and unworkable in practice.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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