Google is in the midst of a legal standoff with a France data protection authority about how far abroad Europe’s “right to be forgotten” policy extends.
The European Court of Justice ruled last year that, under the “right to be forgotten,” its citizens have the right to ask Internet search engines to remove (or delist) embarrassing or debilitating content about them from European search queries.
Emma Llansó, director of the free expression project at the Center for Democracy and Technology, said it is understandable for a country to want to apply data protection to its people, but private companies should not be put in the position of balancing what is relevant information versus what is not.
“The question is about jurisdiction and how far it should extend,” she said. “Putting companies in the position of careful balancing certainly raises concerns from the free expression standpoint … as they could be faced with incentives or burdens.”