Both sides of the debate present compelling arguments regarding the stipulation that “Right To Be Forgotten” (RTBF) should be applied to Google.com.
In the first week of February 2015, GAC (Google Advisory Council) on the RTBP released a formal statement report. The statement is the zenith of several months of discussion and public hearings in different countries within Europe.
Among other things, the report finally addresses the “geographic scope of delisting” an issue that was at the core of many hot contests both on- and off-line and represents the main aim of RTBF. However, a number of questions still linger: how widely should RTBF apply? Shall it be restricted to the versions of Google found within EU member states or implemented for all results from Google.com?
In keeping with Google’s stance, the conclusion of the report was that the delisting activity would be confined to the versions of Google and other search engines within local states. The ruling was not clear regarding the exact search versions that delisting would be applied to. It was therefore Google’s choice to carry out RTBF removal from all its search services within EU countries, citing the guidance of the authority of CJEU throughout Europe.
Google’s Advisory Council is aware that in general practice, when users within Europe type in the URL www.google.com , they are redirected automatically to their local version of the search engine. As such, more than 95% of search queries trace back to Europe are found on the local search engine versions, which is what directs SEO London services and other local marketing endeavors.
By this analysis, it can be concluded that if RTBF delistings are enforced within the local European search engine versions, the rights of the data subject will be adequately protected, given the present technology and state of affairs.
However, the official and much touted position within Europe is that all results that are delisted successfully should not only be removed from local Google versions, but rather from the entire index of Google.com. As the argument stipulates, it would be trivializing the RTBF action, since if the same search query was input through Google.com, the very results that were delisted would still appear.
In the same vein, it could be assumed that implementing RFTB in time would just make users in Europe switch from local search engine versions to Google.com, completing the local versions and, for all intents and purposes, castrating RTBF.
It was not clear in the report whether or not European Courts, as well as other mandated regulatory bodies, have been empowered with the legal jurisdiction and authority to impose RTBF on the world-over version of Google. This, however, has been met by strong resistance from Google.
In conclusion, both sides of the table present sound arguments: on the one hand, the EU is looking to make the RTBF action enforceable and meaningful within member states, which would be difficult to achieve if the same results are still available on Google.com. Conversely, enforcing RTBF on the entire Google index would be extending the jurisdiction of EU’s privacy rules to a global scale, which would not only be distasteful, it is not exactly legal. The EU cannot dictate privacy laws for countries outside of its member states.
While the report did not clearly address this stalemate, it’s obvious that only a technical solution of some kind would bring a solution, though no one can speculate regarding the exact nature of such a solution.
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