‘Right to be forgotten’ should be reviewed after use by Quinns, says data privacy expert
Data Protection Commission should review how Google handles requests to remove news articles from its search engine, data protection activist said, following family use Quinn’s “right to be forgotten” online.
The Irish Independent reported on Saturday that a number of articles published about former billionaire Seán Quinn and his family had been removed from Google searches.
Articles removed from the search engine included past coverage of the family’s way of life and their involvement in broad court battles in the fallout from the financial crash.
Following a 2014 court ruling, individuals can ask search engines to remove articles, making them harder to find online, under what he called the “right to information”. ‘forgetfulness’.
TJ McIntyre, chairman of Digital Rights Ireland and professor of law at University College Dublin, said the Quinn case highlighted potential problems with the practice.
Mr McIntyre said the intention of the ruling was to help people with “old or outdated convictions”, whereas previously this information had featured prominently in Google searches years after the incident in question. .
When the decision was used to delist much of the media coverage, it posed a “problem,” he said.
Concerns about public figures using politics to attempt to suppress the amount of online media coverage themselves have been raised “from day one” in discussions on the right to be forgotten, he said. .
The data privacy expert said he would be “worried” about such cases in something that was an “important mechanism.” “I think that in the immediate term the Data Protection Commission should use its powers to examine the handling of these requests in general,” he said.
The rules came into effect in 2014 after the European Court of Justice established the right for individuals to ask search engines to remove information about them appearing in queries.
To decide what to remove from the list, search engines such as Google must determine whether the information in question is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” – and whether there is a public interest in the information remaining available. in search results.
Thanks to the decision, Google was given “an important public service function,” which “fell to its knees,” McIntyre said.
There was no mechanism for the media to appeal a decision by Google to remove articles from its search engine, he said.
Olga Cronin, head of information rights policy at the Irish Civil Liberties Council (ICCL), said there were clear public interest exemptions from the right to be forgotten, especially when it s ‘were public figures.
“It is essential that big tech companies like Google are transparent about their processes when making decisions that can affect public discourse in this way,” she said.
A Google spokesperson said she did not comment on individual requests for the right to be forgotten.
“We assess each request on a case-by-case basis. In some cases we can ask the individual for more information, ”she said.
Requests were reviewed manually and if Google decided not to remove the content, the person was given a brief explanation of why the decision was made, she said.
Several members of the Quinn family did not respond to requests for comment.