I’ll start the year off with a bit of a general overview of some interesting developments in the area of technology law – specifically in Europe, but with wide-ranging effect – and there certainly have been some in both the closing months of 2015 and already in 2016. I’m hoping I’ll get around to writing about these issues in more depth in the coming months. There have been developments in the realm of employer surveillance of employees; the fallout from the disintegration of the Safe Harbour program continues to plague multinational data-driven companies; and these developments, along with others, such as the future of the so-called ‘Right to be Forgotten’, remains to be seen, with the final touches being put on large scale reform of data protection law in the EU. Continue reading The State of the (European) Union – Technology Law
You may remember that around this time last year I wrote a rather critical analysis of the newly established Right to be Forgotten which resulted from the Google Spain decision. You may also remember that Julia Powles and Rebekah Larsen collected a great deal of commentary (available here) from all sides of the debate on this topic, including, I am flattered to say, mine. Apart from anything else, this collection of commentary from all perspectives helped me re-analyse my own position on the Right to be Forgotten (RTBF), and perhaps move away from being staunchly against it, to being critical of how it was implemented. A year down the line, Julia Powles and Ellen Goodman managed to round up signatures from the lot of us, and composed an excellent Open Letter to Google, asking them for more transparency in how exactly they handle RTBF requests. Continue reading The War of the Forget-Me-Nots: Google and the Right to be Forgotten – One Year On
I read a very nice summary of the problems with undervaluing the importance of freedom of information and communication in the Google v Spain decision by Professor Niko Härting. Here’s just a snippet of the argument;
“Privacy by default” will encourage politicians, celebrities and other public figures to put their lawyers on track when they find inconvenient information online. And as the use of a search engine like Google is essential for finding information, the elimination from the results of search engines will provide a convenient and essential tool to suppress information.
I recommend you read the full article at;
Much rejoicing was had this week amongst fans of Data Privacy and Data Protection, as the European Court of Justice (ECJ – though officially now just the Court of Justice) in its capacity as one wing of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU; I know, the distinction is a bit confusing, and varies depending on who reports it) implied a “right to be forgotten” into European Data Protection Law. For example, the EU justice commissioner, Viviane Reding, welcomed the decision, saying it was a victory for the protection of personal data in the EU; “The ruling confirms the need to bring today’s data protection rules from the ‘digital stone age’ into today’s modern computing world”. Whilst the idea of giving citizens more rights to control the processing and dissemination of their personal information is a commendable one, this already exists in the form of the Data Protection Directive which was found to be applicable in this case.
What really happened here is that the court extended, in my opinion rather widely unclearly, who can be designated as controllers or processors of personal data and what sorts of information should be considered objectionable personal information and remain completely within the control of the citizen. Continue reading Europe and The Right to Be Forgotten: A Memorable Victory for Privacy or Defeat for Free Speech?
Good news for European fans of “The Right to Be Forgotten”, as the European Court of Justice has backed the right to have “irrelevant” or out-dated information removed from online sources, and search results. Google is understandably unhappy, and this could also have troubling consequences regarding freedom of speech and information, but it is certainly interesting to see the ECJ backing this sort of very new “right” specifically as a response to developments in the online world.
TechCrunch contributor Andrew Keen has long argued the “Internet needs to learn to forget“, but I’m not sure this latest EU ruling is quite what he had in mind.
The European Court Of Justice has ruled that Google must respect the “right to be forgotten” and, at the request of private individuals, remove “irrelevant” and outdated information that contravenes an EU privacy directive concerning the way personal data is processed.
Naturally, Google is said to be “furious” and disappointed by the court’s decision.
The landmark case involves a Spanish national who, as far back as 2010, lodged a complaint with Spain’s data protection agency, arguing that a national newspaper and Google were infringing his right to privacy.
Specifically, when entering his name into the search engine, the list of results would display links to two pages of La Vanguardia’s newspaper containing an announcement for a real-estate auction organised…
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