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Eric Schmidt brands “right to be forgotten” ruling as “wrong”

Google reportedly swamped by new takedown requests in the wake of the ruling.

By Vinod

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt has reacted angrily to the recent "right to be forgotten" ruling by European Court of Justice (ECJ) that will allow people to erase their past from search engines, describing it as "wrong".

The ECJ’s decision earlier this month will allow citizens of the EU to request Google or other search engines remove links to information about them which they deem as "objectionable", "inadequate", or "irrelevant".

Responding to the ruling, Schmidt said: "There’s many open questions. A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google’s perspective that’s a balance.

"Google believes having looked at the decision, which is binding, that the balance that was struck was wrong."

The search engine has reportedly been overwhelmed by takedown requests, and are now in need of an "army of removal experts", according to Reuters.

BBC reported that new takedown requests include a politician seeking re-election wanting stories about his behaviour in office removed, as well as a man convicted of possessing child pornography wanting details about his convictions wiped.

Google has not yet sorted out the practical details and is still uncertain whether it will only remove links or make judgements on the merits of each individual request.

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Opinion is divided on the ruling, with data protection campaigners terming it "a victory against powerful search giants" while the proponents of free speech call it "a breeding ground for misuse" and "giving leverage to those who could see information suppressed from public view".

The case that led to the ruling was prompted by Mario Costeja Gonzalez, a Spanish national, who discovered that searches for his name on the net still shows a 1998 article on him related to his financial problems.

The Spanish court directed his case to the Court of Justice in Luxembourg, which ruled in his favour and asked search engines to remove all "old and irrelevant history".

Google is implementing a mechanism for the public to make such requests in two weeks time, according to Germany’s privacy protection authority.

The days ahead could prove difficult for the search engine, as it sifts through massive amounts of takedown requests, in addition to the requests related to copyright violations it already handle.

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