What the EU's 'right to be forgotten' court ruling means for censorship and privacy

The Boardroom

by Duncan MacRae| 14 May 2014

The implications for European citizens

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled this week that European citizens have a "right to be forgotten" in a landmark case against Google.

The decision by the EU's supreme court means that companies can be forced to remove personal information from websites if such data is deemed "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant".

But is this in any way enforceable? And what exactly does it mean for you?

Experts give their views:

Jef Ausloos, doctoral researcher at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Law and ICT, University of Leuven

"Though at first glance it seems to considerably threaten freedom of expression/information interests, much of the wording seems to be very nuanced and limited in scope when looked at more closely. Additionally, the decision is entirely based on the existing legal framework. It is hard to predict how the judgment will interact with the future data protection Regulation, which is already being drafted."

Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group

"We need to take into account individuals' right to privacy but this ruling raises significant concerns. If search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate public content, it could lead to online censorship. This case has major implications for all kinds of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines."

The EU 'right to privacy case may raise costs for firms


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