On July 24th a meeting was held between Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (Bing) and the EU Data Protection Authorities to discuss our ‘right to be forgotten’.forgotten

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave a ruling in May which gave us the right to require search engines to remove a search result which includes our name linked to an “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive” result.

As with most things, putting this ruling into practice is easier said than done. And so the CJEU’s ruling with the right to be forgotten has been open to criticism. The guidelines have been described by Google as “very vague and subjective”. (image from mashable)

Usually cases where someone seeks to limit information is when data was obtained in confidence or is private information about one’s personal life. This ruling, however, allows individuals to seek to confine or doctor public data about themselves. They are allowed do this as the information could constitute as personal.

What is particularly interesting about this ruling and the right to be forgotten is how recent the right to data protection is. The adoption of the Lisbon Treaty (signed by EU member states in 2007, and enforced in 2009) was when data protection for EU citizens became a fundamental right. Human Rights such as free speech and right to freely receive and impart information are well established ones compares to this. It shows how the law is growing and changing in order to protect individuals against the negatives of the rapid growth and change of current social media, networking and technology. It appears the CJEU has found new data protection rights and laws take precedence over traditional free expression.

lawThe political ramifications on many levels are mainly going to be seen on the now contrast between US and EU laws. The majority of resistance of recent efforts to appease mutual interests has been from European parties not wanting to weaken EU privacy standards. Due to this it is hard to
imagine the US embracing EU norms.

In order to avoid future ambiguity the DPA requested the meeting on the 24th with search engine representatives. The DPA’s goal for the meeting was to guarantee consistent application of the ruling and to plan the handling of complaints from individuals whose request were denied.

As confirmed by Google, there has been 91,000 requests regarding 328,000 links and addresses. According to the DPA, Google has refused about 30% of these requests. Other than stating the facts and figures Google, Yahoo and Microsoft declined to comment.