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Google advised to limit ‘Right to be Forgotten’ to Europe

Google’s advisers have backed its belief that so-called right to be forgotten requests should be restricted to Europe.

The conclusion of Google’s advisory council, which was formed to debate the global rollout of the rule, is likely to irk European Union (EU) regulators. EU officials argue that the search engine should censor results worldwide due to the fact that it is easy to access Google.com in Europe.

Members of Google’s advisory board accepted that an expansion of the ruling may boost data protection for individual users but warned that there were other issues that should be considered.

A key concern was that those users outside Europe seeking information and restrictions could run afoul of laws in other countries. More than 95 per cent of all search queries from Europe are made on local versions of the site, according to the council.

Google’s committee said in its report: “We believe that delistings applied to the European versions of search will, as a general rule, protect the rights of the data subject adequately in the current state of affairs and technology.”

The panel also supported Google’s decision to inform publishers when it removed their links but advised that it could go further to allow them to appeal the decisions.

Jimmy Whales, Wikipedia founder and member of Google’s advisory committee, argued: “I completely appose the legal situation in which a commercial company is forced to become the judge of out most fundamental rights of expression and privacy, without allowing any appropriate procedure for appeal by publishers whose works are being surpassed.”

Google has been reluctantly removing personal information from search results upon requests since June. It sees the unwanted content scrubbed from European versions of the site, including Germany.de in Germany and Google.fr in France. However, the content still appears on Google.com.

However, former German federal justice minister and member of Google’s committee, urged for the right to be forgotten to be made global.

"This is the only way to implement the Court's ruling, which implies a complete and effective protection of data subject's rights," Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger wrote. "The Internet is global, the protection of the user's rights must also be global. Any circumvention of these rights must be prevented."

The report from the committee highlighted that its members were only paid expenses and had no contractual or non-disclosure agreement with Google.

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