Friday 23 February 2018

Google's Larry Page: 'right to be forgotten' ruling could aid repressive regimes

Larry Page, Google chief executive, said: ‘It's time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way.’
Larry Page, Google chief executive, said: ‘It's time for reform and we urge the US government to lead the way.’

Non-progressive governments could be strengthened by the European Court's 'right to be forgotten' ruling against Google to do "bad things", the company's CEO Larry Page has said.

Following the recent ruling that individuals should have the right to request links to embarrassing or outdated information about them be taken down, Google has received thousands of applications.

Mr Page told the Financial Times the decision may encourage repressive regimes intent on internet censorship.

"It will be used by other government that aren't as forward and progressive as Europe to do bad things," he said. "Other people are going to pile on, probably... for reasons most Europeans would find negative."

The CEO added that the new privacy regime was likely to stunt technological innovation, including Google if it was still at the stage of "three people in a garage".

“We’re a big company and we can respond to these kind of concerns and spend money on them and deal with them, it’s not a problem for us,” he said. “But as a whole, as we regulate the internet, I think we’re not going to see the kind of innovation we’ve seen.”

Google is able to reject a removal application on the basis of the information being considered in the public interest to know - including details about private individuals others have a "valid interest in knowing".

To date 40 per cent of the applications received have been from Germany, with 14 per cent from Spain, 13 per cent from the UK, and 3 and 2 per cent from Italy and France respectively.

Links to articles regarding fraud/scam have received the most requests, totalling 31 per cent. This was followed closely be 'other', (30 per cent), and arrests/convictions for violent/serious crimes accounted for 20 per cent. Around 12 per cent of requests have regarded child pornography arrests.

An ex-politician seeking re-election, a paedophile and a GP were among the British applicants.

Google has now made the form detailing how to request the removal of links live online, which requires applicants to submit a valid form of photo ID, examples of the links to be taken down and the reasons behind why the links should be deleted.

The company explains: "When evaluating your request, we will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there's a public interest in the information - for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials."

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