French ruling on the ambit of the right to be forgotten raises concerns
The French data protection authority, Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), last week fined Google 100,000 euros for not delisting inaccurate results under name-searches across all its servers, in accordance with a May 2014 ruling of the European Court of Justice, which upholds what has since been termed the ‘right to be forgotten’. The point of contention has been the removal of data from all Google servers. While the company had complied with the order in removing names from all its servers accessible from the home country, the search engine has contended that a French court has no right to order the removal of data from its other servers across the globe.
While some may contest that once data has been deemed inaccurate, it should be removed from all servers, the removal of information for preserving privacy under the right to be forgotten—increasingly being exercised in several countries—raises serious concerns. For instance, a recent court ruling in Japan favoured a man demanding the removal of three-year-old news reports of his arrest in connection to child prostitution and pornography, claiming that it violates his privacy and that criminals should also be entitled to the benefit of having their private life respected and their rehabilitation unhindered. This is instark contrast to the practice in certain jurisdictions, like the US, where convicted sex offenders are required to declare their status to the community in which they live. While the right to privacy is certainly important in cases where inaccurate information is provided, so is the right to information. It all depends on who deems what is inaccurate.