MEPs: clarity needed on "right to be forgotten"

Open Rights Group panel

Safeguards needed following EU court ruling, say parliamentarians

The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that Google must remove a link to a notice about a man who had his house repossessed in Spain may be difficult to enforce under current legislation, according to MEPs.

Speaking at the Open Rights Group’s EU Digital Debate in London last night, Sarah Ludford, the Lib Dem MEP for London admitted it is unclear how the ruling on the “right to be forgotten” will work in practice beyond the current case.

“The devil is going to be in the detail,” said Ludford.

“We need more clarity, more detail than the court judgement this week has given,” she added, arguing that new European data protection legislation could provide this.

Danny Bates, representing the Green Party, said it should only be applicable in a “small number of cases” and also questioned whether or not the mechanism proposed in the ECJ’s ruling is the correct one.

Nevertheless, Ludford, Bates and their fellow panellists, felt the ruling was important in upholding individuals’ rights to privacy.

Labour MEP Claude Moraes, the Labour MEP for London, said his party was supporting the “Right to be Forgotten” – which he pointed out is rightfully called the “Right to Erasure” – as there “has to be a right to personal privacy".

However, he said it’s a “limited right” and said “there will be safeguards in place”.

Ludford added she “wouldn’t want to get into the situation where people couldn’t find legitimate information about dodgy or fraudulent traders”, adding this is why MEPs need to "dot the ‘i’s and cross the ‘t’s in the [data protection] legislation".

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