Lords: ‘right to be forgotten’ is ‘unreasonable’

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Classifying search engines as data controllers under the Data Protection Directive is “unworkable, unreasonable and wrong in principle”, according to a group of UK peers.

In a report on the recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union, the Lords Home Affairs EU Sub-Committee said that the so-called “right to be forgotten” was impossible to enforce and could cause problems for smaller search engines.

We believe that the judgment of the Court is unworkable. It does not take into account the effect the ruling will have on smaller search engines which, unlike Google, are unlikely to have the resources to process the thousands of removal requests they are likely to receive. — Baroness Prashar, Chair of the Sub-Committee

Google has received more than 70,000 requests to remove links following the CJEU ruling.

The Lords report also questioned the principle of burdening private companies with the task of judging the validity of “right to be forgotten” complaints.

It is also wrong in principle to leave search engines themselves the task of deciding whether to delete information or not, based on vague, ambiguous and unhelpful criteria. We heard from witnesses how uncomfortable they are with the idea of a commercial company sitting in judgment on issues like that.
— Baroness Prashar

The report marks the conclusion of an inquiry that heard evidence from Google, the Information Commissioners Office, The Open Rights Group and others.

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