German court lashes out at Google over the 'right to be forgotten'
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German court lashes out at Google over the ‘right to be forgotten’


Google is in hot water in Germany.
Google is in hot water in Germany.

Image: filip SINGER/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

A German court doesn’t believe Google knows what it means to be “forgotten.”

The Higher Regional Court of Munich recently yelled at Google via legal injunction, The Next Web reports, telling the company it’s not doing enough to comply with the European Union’s “right to be forgotten.”

That right — which dates back several years — allows E.U. citizens to request that search engines remove certain links containing personal information that is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.” 

Google has done this by removing requested links and replacing them with text that reads, “As a reaction to a legal request that was sent to Google, we have removed one search result. You can find further information at LumenDatabase.org.”

The Munich court determined this means Google hadn’t really “forgotten” the link existed.

That database, though, often contains the links to the original URL, and the Munich court determined this means Google hadn’t really “forgotten” the link existed. If a person wanted to find the link, they could do it. 

Writing in Techdirt, Mike Masnick argued against the court’s injunction, saying there isn’t much evidence anyone is following the Lumen links to get to the removed information. The database is there for transparency’s sake, so anyone curious can see why a link was removed. 

But the ruling follows a pattern in which European governments and legal systems are slowly pushing internet giants to comply with a European standard of privacy that is increasingly anti-corporate. 

In May, France’s Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertés fined Facebook what amounts to pocket change (for the company) after it was caught using user data for ad targeting without telling those users. For now, doing so costs Facebook almost nothing, but privacy violations for Facebook, Google and other internet companies could cost them as much as four percent of their yearly revenue when new E.U. privacy regulations become the rule of law next year. 

The German court injunction is just one more skirmish in an increasingly tense battle over privacy between internet giants and the European Union. 

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June 17, 2017
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