#Public Sector

House of Lords: ‘Right to be Forgotten’ is just ‘unworkable’, ‘unreasonable’ and ‘wrong in principle’

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The controversial “Right to be Forgotten” ruling by the European Court of Justice, is “unworkable” in practice and “unreasonable and wrong in principle,” according to a U.K. House of Lords subcommittee.

In a report, the EU subcommittee on Home Affairs, Health and Education said the “right to be forgotten” ruling was based on out-dated principles and wasn’t just working, concluding that assuming the “right to be forgotten” even exists in law was a mistake.

The ruling in May that gave the EU citizens, the right to request search engines to remove links to information that are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive,” from the search results, has received a lot of criticism as it was damaging principles of free speech.

Google has received around 91,000 requests to take-down more than 328,000 links, half of which is granted, since the ruling.

Committee chair Baroness Prashar noted that the directive as well as the court’s interpretation haven’t considered the “incredible advancement in technology” seen in recent years, adding that though it is difficult for the body of law and regulations to keep pace with the technological advancements, it is a must for the ruling to be sensible and responsive to changes in society.

Parshar said that the committee believes the ruling to be unworkable for 2 reasons – the ruling has failed to take into account the effect it will have on smaller search engines which unlike Google, will not have resources to process the removal requests.

She continued that the second reason is that the committee believes the principle of the ruling that allows the search engines to decide if the information has to be removed or not, based on “vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria,” is wrong.

Prashar noted that the committee has heard from a lot of witnesses that they are uncomfortable with the idea of a commercial company judging on issues like these.

Parshar added that the new regulation has led to a very strong argument that the “search engines should not be classed as data controllers” and are not liable as “owners” of the information in the links.

She made it clear that the committee does not believe that individuals should have any legal right to remove links to accurate and lawfully available information, just because they simply do not like what is said.