Google’s Eric Schmidt is showing his frustration with the decision regarding the right to be forgotten in the EU. He held the party line against extending removal requests to Google’s .com geography.
Currently, requests made by private persons under the EU ruling for information removal are just implemented by Google on European sub domains, such as Google.co.uk or Google.fr and Google.de amongst others, but not on Google.com.
That’s not about to change, according to Schmidt unless Google is compelled to escalate de-indexing to .com by the ECJ in the future (October 17, 2014).
However, let me note that a Canadian court has already forced Google to do just that.
The ECJ allows a simple workaround to circumvent a de-listed search outcome on a private person ’s name on Google.com for example.
Schmidt was fielding questions about Google’s implementation of the ruling in a public meeting on so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ advisory council taking place in London.
During the four-hour London session Schmidt suggested Google intends to forge ahead to avoid doing this.
“As we read the law it applies to the EU which is the jurisdiction of the court. And of course we have now done the 150,000 reviews and so forth and so on. The Google.com territory is actually U.S. targeted, and what happens is when you come to Europe your default access is to the .uk or .de or .fr or what have you. And since the court focused on European users we’re going to focal point on those domains,” said Schmidt.
“A very small percentage — less than 5 per cent — of European traffic goes to .com so 95 per cent or more are to these sites, I don’t know the exact number, and that’s where the action is,” he added.
During the Q&A session, Schmidt was also asked about the financial costs to Google’s business of implementing the ruling.
Schmidt suggests there may never be a way for Google to automate the process of judging person requests. “It’s not at all obvious to me that this can be ever automated,” he said . “Therefore as the burden of reviewing them grows the costs will grow. We won’t go into the specific numbers but that’s the specific cost . There’s obviously some cost of this event, and the legal reviews and so forth.”
He was also subsequently asked specifically how Google “automates the ethics” of requests. This sparked broader comments from Schmidt about how the decision-making process around request claims may evolve, if persons begin filing legal action against denied requests.
“The solution is we don’t know how to [automate the ethics of requests],” he said . “We would if we could — it makes everything more efficient . But we have real persons reviewing every request and every URL.
“What happens is, again, without giving the specific numbers, there’s things which are no brainers and there are things which are in the grey field and then we have policy specialists in each of those areas who attempt to make these decisions. I don’t know this but I would suspect where there will be difficult cases where the human being is unhappy that they couldn’t get it off of Google, they’re unhappy to not get it off the original publisher and then they will file legal action”.
“Over time a body of law emerges… from the court filings that help define these things. I think that’s the way I suspect how it works for this.”
Another question asked Schmidt about the journalistic exception clause, which authorized the publishers of the original newspaper article — which sparked legal action that resulted in the ECJ ruling on search engines being data controllers — to avoid being necessary to de-list the article itself. Schmidt confirmed Google did not ask for such an exemption.
“We view ourselves as an indexer and a pointer to those sources, we don’t create content, so we’re fairly clear where we are in that process,” he said .
The advisory council was also asked for its views on the reasons for Facebook being the top targeted territory for search de-listing requests. Specifically the question probed whether links to Facebook content is being deleted from Google results because Facebook users are “insufficiently protecting their privacy through Facebook’s tools”.
“Whatever we say will be controversial. I think to some extent yes,” said panel member Lidia Kolucka-Zuk. “This is a very complex problem . People do not read agreements they sign with banks and persons do not read the policy on privacy provided by Facebook. And this is a huge problem that persons do not protect themselves on the Internet… Especially if they use a social network such as Facebook, they should somehow be aware of the consequences as well.”
A final meeting of the advisory council is scheduled to take part in Brussels on November 4 — before it meets privately to compile recommendations for Google on its implementation of the ECJ ruling.
SO BASICALLY NO MATTER HOW UNTRUE: GOOGLE WILL NOT REMOVE CONTENT ABOUT YOU….EVER.