Google Fights Back as EU Weighs Expanding 'Right to Be Forgotten' Worldwide

By Melanie Ehrenkranz on at

Google has been subject to the EU Court of Justice’s “right to be forgotten” law — a requirement that search engines delist requested pages from results — for years. The law enables anyone in the EU to pressure companies like Google to take down search results they don’t like. But this week, Google is pushing back against efforts to expand the right to be forgotten globally.

During a hearing at the European Court of Justice on Tuesday, France’s privacy watchdog the “Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes” argued that websites delisted under the EU law should be also delisted across all Google domains around the world, the BBC reported. Google, meanwhile, continues to argue that expanding the law would turn it into a censorship tool in “less democratic” systems of government.

Tuesday’s hearing, which reportedly involved 15 court judges and around 70 stakeholders, also reportedly weighed the issue of how the expansion of the right to be forgotten law might be applied to other search engines and social networks. The court will reportedly make a ruling early next year, according to the Telegraph.

An annual Transparency Report Google released in February revealed that the search giant has received an outstanding number of takedown requests — about 2.4 million requests from 2014 through 2017. Google says it has complied with 43 per cent of these requests.

While Google has complied with the right to be forgotten law since 2014, it has fought back against the ruling since day one. The tech giant’s opposition toward worldwide expansion during Tuesday’s hearing is hardly a surprising stance.

“We’re speaking out because restricting access to lawful and valuable information is contrary to our mission as a company and keeps us from delivering the comprehensive search service that people expect of us,” Google SVP and General Counsel Kent Walker wrote in a blog post in November 2017. “But the threat is much greater than this. These cases represent a serious assault on the public’s right to access lawful information.” [BBC, Telegraph]