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The 'right to be forgotten': Emma Woollcott on BBC World

Posted on 12 September 2018

The 'right to be forgotten': Emma Woollcott on BBC World

Head of Reputation Protection Emma Woollcott featured on BBC World Business Report discussing the latest in Google's fight against the plan to extend the 'right to be forgotten'. The European Court of Justice could extend the rules worldwide and will decide in 2019.

Speaking to Aaron Heslehurst, Emma said:

"They do [have the right to be forgotten]. The European courts acknowledge that the internet has a long memory, and so have already ruled that where personal data is irrelevant, out of date or excessive it should be de-linked.

I think it's important to understand what that means. De-linking isn't deleting from the internet, it's just removing that link from a Google search of someone's name. Now in the four years from this ruling Google have been de-linking only in Europe, and the French authorities are saying 'well this is meaningless, it doesn’t provide an effective remedy if you can fake where your IP address is coming from to get around that and find where the de-linked information is'.

Google is in a very difficult position. Freedom of speech is not an unlimited right. It's always balanced with competing concerns, including national security interests and privacy rights of individuals. But that balance and how it's struck differs in jurisdictions around the world, and Google is being asked to arbitrate on that worldwide.

This is a case where France is saying the law needs to keep up with technology. There was a case four years ago about de-linking in Europe, and now technology has moved forwards the law should try and keep up with the technology.

Emma also gave a longer interview on the BBC World Service discussing the case.

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