A Google search removal request on the screen of a
A Google search removal request on the screen of a smartphone

Google privacy law: Internet giant to get expert ethical and legal help


Jonathan Owen
Saturday 31 May 2014 08:49

Some of the world’s best-known internet and free speech experts are to help Google find a balance between personal privacy and the public’s right to know.

The panel was set up after a flood of requests from people demanding that the company remove links to information about them.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and Frank La Rue, UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression, are among the independent experts who have agreed to join the new advisory committee. It is set to hold a series of hearings this year in an effort to solve the conflict between an individual’s “right to be forgotten” and the public’s right to know, and is due to report its findings by early 2015.

Others who have joined the committee to look at the ethical and legal challenges posed by the internet include Luciano Floridi, a professor of ethics and philosophy at Oxford University, Professor Peggy Valcke, a media expert at the University of Leuven’s law school, and José-Luis Piñar, a former Spanish data protection agency director.

The panel will be headed by Eric Schmidt, Google’s chairman, and David Drummond, the company’s general counsel. “It is an exciting initiative, which will probably require some hard and rather philosophical thinking,” Professor Floridi said.

The move was prompted by a European court ruling this month which has led to Google being inundated with demands from people wanting to hide links to information about their past.

In a statement yesterday a Google spokesman said: “The court’s ruling requires Google to make difficult judgments about an individual’s right to be forgotten and the public’s right to know.”

The advisory committee has been created “to take a thorough look at these issues,” the spokesman added.

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