Google locks horns with EU over ‘right to be forgotten’

European privacy watchdogs at odds with findings of search giant’s ‘independent’ council

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Google locks horns with EU over ‘right to be forgotten’ European privacy authorities disagree with Google’s assessment that the ‘right to be forgotten’ applies only to EU searches. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  February 8, 2015

Google's "right to be forgotten" battle in Europe took another twist over the weekend, as the bloc's regulators questioned the findings of an independent advisory council that suggested EU demands for expunged links did not apply outside Europe, the Financial Times reported.

The council was recruited by Google and is comprised of eight independent experts as well as Google's chief legal officer, David Drummond, and chairman Eric Schmidt. Its brief was to examine regulations imposed by the European Court of Justice that said Google would be obliged to remove links from search results to outdated or irrelevant content, if asked to do so by the subject of the content.

In implementing the rules, Google has only removed links from European searches and the council on Thursday advised that this practice was acceptable.

But a co-operative of European national privacy watchdogs, led by French data protection agency Commission Nationale de l'informatique et des Libertés (CNIL), believes the findings are flawed.

"We're not going to change our mind," said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, who chairs CNIL. "At some point, if they don't agree to what we have asked them to do... they will have to face a judicial question... It is time for this company to comply with the European law. Enough is enough. They have to understand that if they are acting in Europe, they will have to respect the law as we do when we go abroad to the United States."

Google's Drummond on Thursday said the company was examining the findings and, while disagreeing with CNIL and its allies, said dialogue with data protection agencies would continue.

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