A step forward for free expression

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 | 12:35 PM

Labels: ,

This morning, the Advocate General at the EU’s Central Court of Justice issued an important opinion supporting freedom of expression. In a case between Google and the Spanish Data Protection Agency, the Advocate General agreed with us that data protection authorities cannot force search engines to block search results linking to legal content. “Requesting search engine service providers to suppress legitimate and legal information that has entered the public domain would entail an interference with the freedom of expression,” the Advocate General said. “It would amount to censorship.”

This is just an opinion. The full court still has to make a final ruling. Even so, we’re encouraged because the case is key to free expression online. Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen argues publishers are responsible for the information they put online. Search engines have no control over the information posted by others. They just point to it.

Let us be clear: we think it’s important for people to be able to control the information that they post online themselves. If you post something online about yourself, you should have the right to remove it or take it somewhere else. If someone else posts illegal defamatory content about you, we’ll remove it from our index with a legal order.

In this case we’re simply challenging the notion that information that is demonstrably legal - and that continues to be publicly available on the web - can be censored. People shouldn't be prevented from learning that a politician was convicted of taking a bribe, or that a doctor was convicted of malpractice. The Internet has allowed unprecedented access to information. In order to achieve all the social, cultural and economic benefits of the Internet, it must be kept free and open.

0 comments: