Feeds

Is Google liable for unlawful web graffiti on its walls?

High Court says no, Spanish beaks unsure

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Europe's highest court has been asked to make clear whether or not it is Google's responsibility to remove data from its search engine index and news aggregator if it hadn't produced that material itself.

The request from Spanish court, the Audiencia Nacional (in Spanish), to the European Court of Justice came as a top judge in the UK ruled that Google was not responsible for what he described as "internet graffiti" on the company's services.

Madrid's data protection authority received over 100 requests from Spanish citizens who wanted information deleted from Google's search results, prompting Spain's highest court to seek clarity on the matter from the ECJ.

Audiencia Nacional judges also asked the ECJ if complainants would be required to go via a Californian court in order to air their gripes seeing as that's where Google is headquartered.

The company implemented its new privacy policy last week despite protests by a French watchdog on behalf of the Article 29 Working Party, which is an independent data protection advisory body to the EU.

Google had been urged to halt the changes to its terms of service amid concerns over the firm's handling of its users' data and the ramifications of the tweaks for an individual's privacy online.

But, in contrast to Spain's referral to the ECJ, Mr Justice Eady threw out a libel case brought against Google at the UK's High Court late last week.

He declared that Google was "purely [a] passive wall" and said the world's largest search engine had no responsibility for the "graffiti" posted on its blogger.com service.

Put simply, the judge - citing common law - found that defamatory snippets on Google's platform had not been published by the company and Eady thereby ruled that Mountain View was not liable for those remarks.

Removing material and the right to be forgotten

Google has put out carefully-worded statements rejecting the main thrust of the so-called "right to be forgotten" online - a pledge championed by European Commissioner Viviane Reding to give EU citizens the right to erase damaging material published on the internet.

Peter Fleischer, Google's privacy counsel, has labelled the "right to be forgotten" as a "political slogan".

"As this debate unfolds, the lack of clarity is raising false expectations. As people read that there will soon be a legal 'right to be forgotten', they are asking DPAs and search engines to delete third-party content about themselves or links to such content," he said just days after the commissioner tabled her draft data protection bill with the European parliament.

"I regularly hear requests from people to 'remove all references to me, Mrs X, from the internet'. No law can or should provide such a right, and politicians and DPAs should not mislead them to expect it."

Blighty's High Court has agreed with that argument; it's less clear if other parts of Europe - where data protection is much more strongly enforced - will share that view, however. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
Microsoft EU warns: If you have ties to the US, Feds can get your data
European corps can't afford to get complacent while American Big Biz battles Uncle Sam
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.