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Google admits to failings in handling of EU 'right to be forgotten' ruling

But still doesn't agree with it
Fri Jul 11 2014, 10:54

google-eraserGOOGLE HAS ADMITTED that it has made some mistakes following Europe's "right to be forgotten" ruling, and said that while it continues to disagree with it, it is committed to complying with the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decision.

In an article published at The Guardian, Google chief legal officer David Drummond admitted that the firm hasn't handled the "right to be forgotten" ruling perfectly, and said it has made some mistakes - such as "incorrectly" removing links to some articles last week, perhaps unsurprisingly, from The Guardian.

Drummond said, "Of course, only two months in our process is still very much a work in progress. It's why we incorrectly removed links to some articles last week (they've since been reinstated)."

Drummond went on to say that while Google has made some mistakes, it is "committed to complying with the court's decision".

"That's why we have also set up an advisory council of experts, the final membership of which we are announcing tomorrow," Drummond said. "These external experts from the worlds of academia, the media, data protection, civil society and the tech sector are serving as independent advisers to Google."

While Google has said that, going forward, it will strive to comply with the "right to be forgotten" ruling, the firm doesn't agree with it - as Google chairman Eric Scmidt hasn't held back on saying.

Drummond said that the ruling limits freedom of expression and opinion, which is why Google has until now only removed links to articles that are deemed illegal by a court, or contain 'pirated' content or malware.

"As article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers'," Drummond said.

"But the European court found that people have the right to ask for information to be removed from search results that include their names if it is 'inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive'.

"In deciding what to remove search engines must also have regard to the public interest. These are, of course, very vague and subjective tests.

"This means that the Guardian could have an article on its website about an individual that's perfectly legal, but we might not legally be able to show links to it in our results when you search for that person's name. It's a bit like saying the book can stay in the library but cannot be included in the library's card catalogue."

In the article, Drummond went on to reveal that Google has so far received 70,000 takedown requests covering over 250,000 webpages.

"We now have a team of people reviewing each application individually, in most cases with limited information and almost no context," Drummond added. µ


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