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Sunday, August 16, 2015

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Right to be Forgotten Debate in Europe

One of the most debated subjects in the digital world, at the moment, is the one focusing on the "right
to be forgotten" rule that Google was required to respect in Europe. So, following a decision of the Court  of Justice of the European Union dating back to May 2014, Google implemented the right to be forgotten in several EU countries. However, the debate has not ended, as the tech company was asked to implement this rule globally.

A French data protection regulator has just asked the famous company to implement this rule all around the world. However, it seems that Google is not happy with this request and the famous company has actually refused to do so. Of course, this is not a final decision yet, so Google has the right to refuse to comply. However, the debate and the concerns that surround this subject may not stop here.

What is "the right to be forgotten"?

The "right to be forgotten" actually gives people in Europe the possibility to ask the tech giant to remove certain personal information, which can be considered irrelevant, outdated or embarrassing, from Google's search results. People who are not happy with certain results popping up in the search engine can submit requests to Google and the tech giant will remove certain links from its search results.

Since the May ruling of the European Court of Justice, Google has been receiving requests from
European users and has removed content links according to the submissions received. However, if the
popular company complied with that, it does not mean that Google is ready to make it worldwide
available. The popular company refused the request formulated by the French regulator to apply this
rule to all of its domains, including results outside the European continent.

Google claimed that "no one country should have the authority to control what content someone in a
second country can access," basing its refusal on this argument and it seems that many people agree
with the tech giant. Some claimed that the rule would not be applicable in the United States, as it would actually come in disagreement with the First Amendment.

Google also said that the ruling would have a limited impact on the French people, who in about 97
percent access the French version of the search engine, rather than the global one. Moreover, the tech
company said that the extension of the ruling to other countries would only end up creating a dangerous precedent.

"There are innumerable examples around the world where content that is declared illegal under the laws of one country, would be deemed legal in others: Thailand criminalizes some speech that is critical of its King, Turkey criminalizes some speech that is critical of Ataturk, and Russia outlaws some speech that is deemed to be 'gay propaganda'," Google explained in a blog post.

Naturally, opinions are shared and it is yet to find out what authorities will say and if Google will finally have to comply with this decision. Meanwhile, the right to be forgotten remains only available to Europeans.

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