Google to host European meetings over 'right to be forgotten' ruling

The tech giant is holding a series of meetings across Europe to debate the 'right to be forgotten,' privacy, and freedom of information. First stop: Madrid.


Google is hitting European roads to thrash out how a European court ruling enforcing the 'right to be forgotten' can be properly applied to Internet search results.

As reported by Reuters, a number of meetings will be held in European countries to discuss not only the 'right to be forgotten' ruling, but how the legislation can be balanced against privacy rights and freedom of information.

In May , the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the search engine must remove links if information stored about individuals online is considered "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant." Google was disappointed with the decision, and now has to cope with thousands of information removal requests per month. However, the company faces challenges in applying the ruling properly.

Users can request that links be removed from the search engine, and requests so far -- over 90,000 since mid-July alone -- include photos, press stories and links related to criminal records. If the search engine rejects the request, the individual can then appeal to data protection watchdogs.

While many link removals have not been made public, the tech giant informed a number of media outlets when links on their websites were scrubbed. The Guardian, BBC and Telegraph have all been targeted, and in August, an entry on the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia was removed from certain Google search results.

However, when organizations -- such as the Wikimedia Foundation -- create web pages documenting link removal requests, or the press report on link removal notifications received from Google, this in turn tarnishes the spirit of the court ruling -- as additional attention is drawn to the information that was removed in the first place.

Seven meetings in European capitals are due to be held for Google's advisory panels, and Madrid is the tech giant's first stop. Following the Spanish meeting, the panel will debate these issues in Rome, Paris, Warsaw, Berlin, London and Brussels.

Meanwhile, data protection regulators will be meeting on 15 September to issue new guidelines for search engines affected by the right to be forgotten ruling.

The advisory panel sessions will be streamed online.

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