EU ruling on Google data risks opening the floodgates

“From a data protection point of view this ruling might give more control over web content to the wider public. However it remains to be seen if the UK will indeed opt out of this new law, as the Ministry of Justice has suggested it may,” says Tim Summers of Temple Bright law firm.

“This is because the right to be forgotten, if implemented in the UK, will affect the technology industry more than any other. Data and tech firms are the ones who would have to pay for this new law. The UK is seeking to build its stature as a global hub for tech innovation, and onerous legislation on tech firms is unlikely to help the cause.

“Dealing with requests to delete historic data is likely to be incredibly expensive, and it may set unrealistic expectations on companies like Facebook and Twitter, which have huge databases that would need to be monitored in minute detail.

“In practice, the way in which data is handled might not change – but the existence of such a law would risk opening the floodgates with tech companies being legally challenged for the removal of all types of content. The concept of ‘inadequate or irrelevant’ content, to which the right to be forgotten applies, seems very broad.

“So while such a law may have some immediate appeal from a privacy perspective, there are some serious potential consequences and these must be considered carefully.”

This is an extract of an article which appeared on the Channel 4 News website on 13 May 2014.