ECJ Pressures Google Inc. to Accept ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Cases

The search engine giant has always been against limiting freedom of information on the internet, and, historically, has always fought for an Internet that is free from government censorship and restrictions (that’s one reason why Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is so unpopular in China, which is a highly government-regulated country). However, recently, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has begun to pressure Google into accepting requests by individuals to be “forgotten” on the internet under the ‘right to be forgotten’ clause that Google has in place for certain cases.

This changes everything! Previously, Google dealt with all the requests it received in a manner that was controversial, to say the least. Over 80% of the total requests that Google received (it has received more than 210,000 requests for delisting) were rejected by the company on the premise that the grounds provided that supposedly justified delisting off of the Internet simply didn’t stand firm on their own and were not sufficient to allow users to be ‘forgotten’ on the Internet.

Google did the same with a Spanish individual, who had requested the company to remove certain information pertaining to him from the website. After the request was denied, the user appealed the decision in the ECJ (which is a right given to users by Google) and the court, after careful evaluation of the case facts, concluded that the information pertaining to the user available on the Google domain was, in fact, outdated or simply irrelevant, and ordered the search engine giant to remove links pertaining to such information.

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Now, over 18 rejected cases have entered the appeal stage at their respective legal centers, with more expected as the wildfire erupts. This compelled Google to restructure what it offered under the ‘right to be forgotten’ clause, because, according to analysts, clearly there was something wrong with the clause that led to the majority of appeals being rejected by Google ultimately get accepted in legal courts.

To assess how the right should be modified to better cater to the needs of the users, Google formulated, what has come to be known as, Google Advisory Group. The group, comprising of 8 members, was given the task to assess the ECJ court order, and to provide guidance regarding the future shape of the ‘right to be forgotten’ itself.

And the group has come to a conclusion as well. According to credible sources, the 8-member committee has suggested Google Inc. to delist information under the ‘right to be forgotten’, that should be removed in the context of European law anyway, but only in the domain. According to the committee, the information should stay at the domain, which is the same world over.

However, analysts wonder whether such limited removal under ‘right to be forgotten’ would achieve the purpose of the clause at all. It also poses a threat to the general ideology that Google stands for, which is the dissemination of information throughout the world without censorship. If European users are not shown particular search results that are otherwise visible all over the world, experts fear the company would soon receive requests by dictator regimes to censor content in their countries, which it would have to comply as a consequence of this decision. Doing so would damage Google, and the goodwill it holds the world over as a guardian of free information.