Google is expressing concerns to the
Department of Commerce that the so-called “right to be forgotten” could spread from Europe to other areas of the world.
Judges on Europe’s highest court created the controversial right four
years ago, when they ruled that Google (and other search engines) can be forced to delete links to information about EU residents at their request, if their right to privacy outweighs the public
interest in the information.
Google now says it’s worried that the right to be forgotten could expand beyond the EU. “We have done our best to comply responsibly, but we disagreed with the
ruling in Europe and would have concerns about this principle being exported to other jurisdictions,” Google said in a recent filing with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The “right to be forgotten” doesn’t exist in the United States, where free
speech principles protect the right to publish accurate information. But judges in the EU may soon broaden the principle in a way that could restrict Americans’ access to information.
Specifically, Europe’s highest court is considering whether the right to be forgotten requires Google to scrub links in its search results worldwide — including search results on the U.S. site
Google.com — or only links that appear in the search results pages created for European countries, like the French site Google.fr.
Regulators in France previously said that Google must remove
material from all of its results pages. Google has appealed that ruling to the EU’s highest court, arguing that regulators in one country shouldn’t be able to determine what information Google can
display in other parts of the world.
The company is now bringing its concerns to the NTIA. “We strongly oppose the idea of global removals based on a Right to be Forgotten,” the company
“Google is committed to the circulation of lawful information and strongly opposes the idea of one national Court or Authority having the power to decide what information is allowed to
circulate and enjoyed by citizens throughout the world,” the company adds. “A call for global removals is concerning because it is based on an approach that, if generally applied, would lead
authorities of non-democratic governments to restrict freedom of expression and censor information around the world.”
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