Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Google Conducting Meetings on Privacy Rights across Europe


Search Engine Google has appointed a panel who are going to host a first of a kind of series of meeting to debate on creating balance between information free flow and privacy. These meetings are being conducted post the May court ruling in which Europeans' "right to be forgotten" was reinforced.

Internet search giant has been struggling with the increasing number of requests every month. These requests include removal of any data pertaining to serious criminal offence, to any embarrassing photos, negative press releases and online harassment situations. The first event is being held in Madrid which is the first from the seven meeting that will be held in various European capitals.

According to Google, which hold more than 90% of the search market in Europe, have been able to remove more than half of the 90000 request that they have received till mid-July pertaining to the court ruling which instructed them to remove all the results from the engine, which are no longer valid, insufficient, irrelevant or are no longer relevant for anyone.

In the meantime, the data protection regulators belonging to the European countries are working on setting rules and regulations and guidelines for various search engines. These engines also include Yahoo search and Microsoft Corp. These guidelines are being set to ensure that request received by these search engines are handled properly. This meet is expected to happen on 15th September.

PR War on a serious issue or just another Business strategy: 

According to the head of France’s privacy watchdog and WP29 group of European national data protection authorities, Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, they were very doubtful about this initiative of Google, as they were considering this part of PR war, which is an important part of the business strategy of the company.

As per Isabelle, Google is putting efforts towards setting up their own terms. Google is trying to be open about the issue and be virtuous, but on the other hand they have handpicked the members of the meeting and also ensured that they know about everyone who is expected to be part of this meeting. Google basically is controlling everything from start till the results that is expected out from these meeting.

If Google declines are request, then that part person can approach the national data protection regulator and appeal against it. There are a lot of cases already registered with the agency. Wikipedia has been able to start a web page which aims at updating every link removal request that is received. This is a form of protest shown by the company to emphasis on the information people are trying to remove. According to regulators these notices are against the ruling of the court.

Strategy of Google: 

According to Kauffman, Google has asked for their input and in formulating ideas. They have also asked French regulator Isabelle to take part in their meeting as well. But this has been declined as a regulator can’t be part of such meetings but they can send their staff to observe the meetings.

Spanish regulators are in no mood to attend this meeting. Eight representatives are part of the advisory council which includes former German justice minister, Google’s general counsel, chairman, two academics. Some other member is the Wikipedia founder and United Nations human rights official

Meeting Schedule: 

After the Madrid meeting, the councils will meet in Rome on 9th Sep, then Paris on 25th, Warsaw on 30th, Berlin on 14th Oct and 16th Oct in London. Last meet will be held in Brussels on 4th November.

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