Right to be forgotten law : Google Vs EU – UPSC GS3

What is Right to be Forgotten?
  • The right to be forgotten was laid down by the European Court in 2014.
  • Under the law the court ruled that people can ask search engines like Google to remove irrelevant information appearing under searches for their names.
  • Since then Google received 845,501 million requests and removed 45% of the requests.
Background of the law
  • The Right to be forgotten has its roots from a French concept called “right of oblivion”.
  • It offers protection to personal data.
  • The European legal systems tend to give privacy more weight than the American systems especially in balancing personal protections against free expression.
  • In 1995 the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of a Spaniard who objected the prominent display of legal notices referring to his old debts.
  • The court ruled that the search engines must honour requests from public to remove objectionable links
Recent Judgement:
  • The European Union’s top court ruled that Google does not have to apply “Right to be forgotten law” globally.
  • This means that the US based Tech giant has to remove data links to personal information only in its European version of search results and not elsewhere in the world.
  • The Court of Justice of the EU said there was no obligation for a search engine to carry out de – referencing on all versions of its search results.
  • The world’s popular search engine had previously warned about the dangers in EU’s over reach outside its borders in the name of “Right to be forgotten”
Who filed the case against Google? Why?
  • The case was filed by a French watch dog CNIL demanding fine of 100,000 Euros for the tech giant refusing to de – list sensitive information globally.
  • Google took the fight to European Court of Justice.
  • The demand was to remove satirical photo montage of a female politician and couple of articles referring to public relations officers of Church of Scientology.
Significance of Google’s win:
  • The ruling according to privacy activists will offer relief from vindictive online behaviour and will aid people who want to forget their past mistakes and start fresh.
  • The case was a landmark test of whether people can demand omitting information about themselves without smothering freedom of speech and public interest.
  • Policy makers around the world looked it as a test if the EU can extend its laws beyond its borders.
  • The search engine was supported by other digital big shots like Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook.
  • They together believe that the right prevents or at the least discourages an Internet user.
  • The right will also brush aside internet freedom if less democratic parts of the world embraced same policy.
  • The major concern in the US was that removing information from the internet contradicts the open nature of the web and hinders free flow of information.
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