Feeds

'I'm for free speech!' brave Boris bellows, bewildered by 'right to be forgotten' bluster

Calm down, dear, it's not a problem

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Has Boris Johnson been paying too much attention to Jimmy Wales while the Wikipedia co-founder bangs on about Europe's so-called "right to be forgotten"?

On Monday, the Mayor of London claimed the European Court of Justice's ruling that made Google subject to European privacy laws was suddenly bad news for freedom of expression on the web.

"I am on the side of history, free speech and people's right to know what is going on in the world," Johnson bravely told The Times [paywall] during the opening of the capital's Technology Week in Shoreditch.

The Mayor continued:

The internet is a wonderful thing. It allows us to know what is going on in the world and I don't want to see people effectively going through it to weed out the truth.

Ex-Spectator editor Johnson added to the Times that he could not "see how it is practically possible [for watchdogs] to maintain the 'right to be forgotten' ruling".

Fret not, BoJo.

What Johnson appears to have not grasped is that the ECJ, the European Union's highest court on the law, made it very clear that netizens throughout the 28-member-state bloc can – under existing data protection law – ask Google to remove search links from its index if the information is old, irrelevant and not in the public interest. The key word here is ask.

Scare-mongering news reports, spun expertly by Google, wrongly suggested that people in positions of power can now order Mountain View to banish damaging stories about them from the interwebs.

But Google can snub any requests it receives to remove links from its ad-coated search results.

Such a refusal would simply force the complainant to take their gripe to their national data protection authority – such as the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in the UK – and any decision taken at that level can be fought over in the courts.

That's a harder task than the mayor implied when he spoke of "people effectively weeding out the truth". He also failed to note that publishers are not required to delete news reports from their sites.

And, don't forget, the ICO has welcomed the ECJ ruling – and described the "inaccurate reporting" of the whole matter as regrettable. A spokesman at the regulator told El Reg: “It’s not a ‘right to be forgotten’ – there is not an absolute right to have information removed." ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
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.
Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
How to determine if cloud backup is right for your servers
Two key factors, technical feasibility and TCO economics, that backup and IT operations managers should consider when assessing cloud backup.
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.