Right to be Forgotten: Google Advisory Council Call for Comments and Evidence

July 28, 2014

In the wake of the CJEU decision in Google Spain/Costeja, Google set up an Advisory Council, with the stated aim of gathering input from Europeans. The Advisory Council has now issued a formal call for comments and evidence (the introductory text is set out in full below). There was already a call for views on the Advisory Council web site but this latest development is more formal and includes details of the meetings that are to be held, with live evidence taken, in various capital cities – starting, appropriately enough, in Madrid on 6 September. The London meeting is scheduled for 16 October.

The call includes a deadline for the receipt of comments and evidence of 11 August and makes it clear that the Council welcomes position papers, research, and surveys in addition to other comments.

The hope is that the Advisory Council’s findings will also be ‘useful to others that may be affected by the court’s ruling’. The Council web site states that: ‘We all have a shared interest in giving proper effect to the Court’s decision, finding the best possible balance on this issue.’

Laurence Eastham writes:

I detect a whiff of lèse-majesté in this formal call for views – it is something that I associate with government or organs of government. But, bearing in mind that the CJEU has practically forced this crown onto Google’s head, it is forgivable.

I would encourage SCL members to offer views. Views from the sharp end may be more valuable than some of the conceptual twaddle that may dominate the Advisory Council’s reading over the next few months.

I have two reservations about this move. The first? It is hard to believe, after so much has been written by so many about this ruling, that the members of the Advisory Council have managed to keep an open mind. Can they really be influenced at this stage?

The second? I am out of the country on the date of the London meeting. How will the Council cope? 

The Google Call Text

Formal request for public comment and evidence

This form is also available in: Deutsch, français, español, italiano, polski.

The Advisory Council to Google on the Right to be Forgotten is seeking public comments and evidence on the issues raised by the recent ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union. Comments received through this process will be evaluated by the Council in selecting witnesses to provide evidence in-person during future Council meetings.

  • To further its understanding of the issues raised by the ruling, the Council seeks input on these topics among others that may arise:
  • Are there any procedural issues raised by the case (e.g., responsibilities of search engines, data protection authorities,, publishers, individuals)?
  • What is the nature and delineation of a public figure’s right to privacy?
  • How should we differentiate content in the public interest from content that is not?
  • Does the public have a right to information about the nature, volume, and outcome of removal requests made to search engines?
  • What is the public’s right to information when it comes to reviews of professional or consumer services? Or criminal histories?
  • Should individuals be able to request removal of links to information published by a government?
  • Do publishers of content have a right to information about requests to remove it from search?

The Council will hold several public meetings at which invited experts will present evidence. The experts chosen to present evidence will be based in large part on submissions gathered through this process. The initial meetings are scheduled as follows:

  • September 9 in Madrid, Spain
  • September 10 in Rome, Italy
  • September 25 in Paris, France
  • September 30 in Warsaw, Poland
  • October 14 in Berlin, Germany
  • October 16 in London, UK
  • TBD in November or December: Brussels

We hope to follow these with a handful of additional meetings elsewhere in Europe in late October and early November. Please indicate which if any of the dates you might be available to present at any of the meetings above. Given the schedule of our meetings having this information on-hand at selection will be important.

The deadline for filing comments is August 11 2014, and comments can be filed electronically through the web-form below. We will accept and read submissions after August 11, but may not be able to invite those authors to present evidence. If you have previously submitted feedback through the general web-form, those comments will be taken into consideration. The Council welcomes position papers, research, and surveys in addition to other comments. We accept submissions in any official EU language.