Google cannot decide what information should be forgotten, say Lords

The ‘right to be forgotten’ EU ruling was condemned as ‘unworkable, unreasonable and wrong in principle’ by the House of Lords this morning.

The ruling, which allows people the right to exclude personal information from search engine results, ‘must go,’ the select committee said.

“It is no longer reasonable or even possible for the right to privacy to allow data subjects a right to remove links to data which are accurate and lawfully available," it said.

The committee’s main contention lies with the definition of search engines as a “data controller”, which it believes is untenable. The report noted that search engines are not placed to decide what should and shouldn't be removed.

It stated: “It is wrong in principle to leave to search engines the task of deciding many thousands of individual cases against criteria as vague as ‘particular reasons, such as the role played by the data subject in public life’. We emphasise again the likelihood that different search engines would come to different and conflicting conclusions on a request for deletion of links.”

The critique comes after Google, Microsoft and Yahoo met with European data protection leads on Thursday to brainstorm how to implement the ruling passed in May.

Currently, users can fill out a removal request form from Google, submitted the offending URL and the reason it is “irrelevant, outdated or otherwise inappropriate”.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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