Google sets up advisory committee to deal with 'right to be forgotten' requests

By Robert Lawson, Tech Times | July 11, 4:53 PM

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Google has set up a special advisory committee to handle requests from Europeans who want links removed from their search pages. This comes after a European Union court ruling that people have a "right to be forgotten." Google argues the ruling could impact the public's "right to know."

Google's legal team does not agree with the decision by the EU Court of Justice and the company is struggling to comply with the recent ruling.

According to the most recent news, Google's Chief Legal Officer David Drummond said the ruling violates information contained within the UN's universal declaration of human rights. He added the ruling also negatively restrict's the public's ability to exercise free expression in the continent-state. 

Since May, Google has received more than 70,000 requests to remove links containing information. Drummond said the company will have trouble in trying to determine the legitimacy of each claim out of the thousands, or potential millions, that are pouring in. 

Google's disagreement with the EU ruling is on the grounds that it could restrict free speech, leave open the possibility of abuse from those seeking to remove important information or context and, finally, that its requirements for compliance are vague and subjective. What about former politicians who want to remove links to discussions surrounding their policy decisions when they were in office? What about information regarding dangerous criminals? These are just a couple of examples that Drummond used to describe the types of requests the company will be forced to review to balance content in the public interest. This will also move Google more into the role of content gatekeeper than the company is comfortable with, he said.

The advisory board was assembled to deal with the requests and to determine the proper way to go about deciding whether the information is damaging to the person in question, whether it is outweighed by the public's "right to know" and whether a public figure should be allowed scrutiny.

To deal with these questions, the company set up a page that allows submissions from the public. The European citizens are asked to provide insight to the company and to answer the question, "How should one person's right to be forgotten be balanced with the public's right to know?"

Google and its lawyers have said they will need to review requests on a case-by-case basis. The company presents a classically Google page look on its advisory web page that invites thoughts from Europeans on how the law ought to be applied. Google likely wants insight into public opinion as well as a strategy to do this as efficiently and fairly (to users) as possible. 

The independent advisory team is made up of several specialists including Sylvie Kaufmann, Luciano Floridi, José-Luis Piñar, Frank La Rue, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, Lidia Kolucka-Zuk, Jimmy Wales and Peggy Valcke. These experts will provide a public report after holding streamed hearings this fall, Google's advisory council page says.

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