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Right to be forgotten? That’s not Google’s call – data MEP Albrecht

And don't you dare swap our privacy for, um, potatoes

spiders crawl through tunnel of binary numbers

Even though changes to Europe’s data protection laws would not substantially alter the right to deletion or erasure, perhaps Google shouldn’t be making such calls on its own, according to Jan Philipp Albrecht, a leading data protection MEP.

Last May, Google was ordered to remove links to “outdated or irrelevant” information about individuals by the European Court of Justice, the so-called right to be forgotten.

At the time the decision provoked surprise, in particular since it went contrary to the ECJ’s own advocate general’s opinion.

Since then the company has received nearly 200,000 requests representing more than 710,000 URLs. The ad giant has refused in around 60 per cent of cases.

But Albrecht says that shouldn’t be Google’s call: “We could be clear in the regulation that companies cannot just makes these decisions without some sort of independent oversight.”

He added that there were issues to be weighed up against “Google’s right to have nice search results”. For some the current interpretation of these rules might be a huge surprise, but that’s because they haven’t been complying with the law, he said.

He was also scathing about the ongoing trade negotiations between the EU and the US: “Data protection cannot just be traded away for access to potatoes or something!”

It is understood from the few public documents available on the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) talks that data flows are being discussed, but most of the talks are shrouded in secrecy.

Albrecht himself says he hasn’t been able to read the papers “because I’m not prepared to sign a 16-page document saying I will go to jail if I talk about them”. ®

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