Internet Dementia – European Court Judgment and the ‘Right to be Forgotten’

Christian Möller, a Fall 2014 CGCS Listing Scholar, overviews and analyzes the recent European Court Judgement on the ‘right to be forgotten.’

The Spanish Case

In 1998, Mario Costeja González, a Spanish citizen from El Escorial near the Spanish capital Madrid, was about to be forced into the foreclosure sale of his property due to social security debts, a fact that, on page 23, was also reported by the regional La Vanguardia newspaper. Although the proceedings were concluded and resolved, for years to come a Google search of González’s name brought up the newspaper notice of the foreclosure.

In 2009, González filed a complaint with the Spanish Data Protection Agency (or Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, short AEPD) against La Vanguardia and Google Spain, asking for an injunction against both the newspaper and search engine. The AEPD dismissed the claim against the newspaper (which was under a legal obligation to publish the official notice), but issued an injunction against Google Spain SL and Google Inc. to delete the data from the search engine’s index. Google appealed to the AEPD, whichreferred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxemburg.

On May 13, 2014, the ECJ ruled that Google must remove links to outdated or irrelevant personal information from search results upon request. The Court found that individuals have a right to control their private data and that they have the right to request that information be ‘forgotten’ when the results show links to information that…

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Internet Censorship: A Game of Cat and Mouse

In light of Google Ideas’ uProxy tool announcement, Annenberg-Oxford 2013 alumnus Temitope Lawal reviews governments’ employment of censorship and surveillance online, and the growing efforts by internet users to circumvent these restrictions to fulfill their right to freedom of expression, access to information, and privacy.

Recently, Google Ideas announced that it developed a tool called uProxy, a peer-to-peer service that allows people living under controlling regimes to bypass government censorship and surveillance software by establishing internet connections with trusted persons living in open internet states. Currently, more than 25 countries, notably China, Iran and Syria, have institutionalised different types of internet controls to restrict online speech and information access. In Iran, for example, foreign media sites are often blocked, redirected or hijacked.[i] Even with existing circumvention tools, sites such as Voice of America and Kaleme cannot be accessed within the country. China’s highly sophisticated filtering technologies, collectively known as the Great Firewall of China, also enable the practice of blocking foreign websites, blogs and social media platforms. Meanwhile the Turkish government continues to actively monitor and filter content posted on Twitter since anti-government protests in June.

Unlike other circumvention technologies, such as Ultrasurf, Tor and Phiphon, uProxy users selectively share their internet connection with trusted friends. The extension will allow two people who know each other, and are already in touch via chat or email platforms, to share their connection in a way that resembles a virtual private network (VPN). A user in Syria, for example, could…

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