Google is to meet data regulators from across
the European Union to discuss the
implications of the recent “right to be
An EU court ruled in May that links to
“irrelevant” and outdated data should be erased
from searches on request, leading to censorship
The decision, and Google’s handling of requests,
has been heavily debated.
The UK’s data commissioner said he expects a
“tsunami” of complaints relating to links people
Speaking to Radio 5 Live’s Wake Up To
Money , Christopher Graham said Google had a
responsibility to deal with the issue.
“The polluter pays, the polluter should clear
up,” he said.
“Google is a massive commercial organisation
making millions and millions out of processing
people’s personal information. They’re going to
have to do some tidying up.”
Google, which has publicly expressed its
disagreement with the court’s decision, is
understood to have received more than 70,000
requests for links to be taken down since the
court ruling was made.
Thursday’s meeting in Brussels will also include
representatives from other search engines, such
as Yahoo, and Microsoft’s Bing.
They will meet with a group known as the Article
29 Working Party, a gathering of data
commissioners from across Europe concerned
about the future direction of the “right to be
Ahead of it, the Society of Editors – a group
representing media organisations in the UK –
has written a letter to Prime Minister David
Cameron urging that the UK resists the ruling.
The society has warned that a “vital principle”
over the free publishing, and archiving, of
information is at stake.
As part of the “right to be forgotten” process,
Google began notifying media organisations
about links it was removing – including one
relating to a blog post made by the BBC
business editor Robert Peston.
Many organisations have been publishing new
articles, highlighting the old ones that have been
the subject of “right to be forgotten” requests.
Furthermore, a website has been set up to log
requests made under the EU ruling.
Speaking to Bloomberg, the Irish data protection
commissioner Billy Hawkes expressed concerns
about this knock-on effect, which brought more
unwanted publicity for the person who had
requested the information to be de-listed from
“The more they do so, it means the media
organization republishes the information and so
much for the right to be forgotten,” Mr Hawkes
“There is an issue there.”
However the UK information commissioner Mr
Graham said that some of the concerns
expressed by newspapers and broadcasters
were overblown – and that there may have
been some media manipulation on Google’s
“All this talk about rewriting history and
airbrushing embarrassing bits from your past –
this is nonsense, that’s not going to happen,” he
He said the censorship debate should not hide
the fact that people should be allowed to move
on from some incidents in their past.
“There will certainly be occasions when there
ought to be less prominence given to things that
are done and dusted, over and done with.
“The law would regard that as a spent
conviction, but so far as Google is concerned
there’s no such thing as a spent conviction.”