Since 2014, Europe has been pushing to censor Google search results within Europe. These laws fall under the regulation “The Right to be Forgotten” which comes in the form of user appeals. If a user wants their data removed from Google search results, they can send in an appeal–even if it’s factual. The Right to be Forgotten is fundamentally altering the way the internet works in the EU.
However, now France is pushing that the censorship enforced by EU’s Right to be Forgotten be forced onto the rest of the world as well. If something gets removed in Google in Europe, France wants it also to be removed elsewhere–like in the US.
Right now in someone in America searches Google, they get uncensored results–but if this went through, that wouldn’t be the case. Search results would be altered, creating a dangerous precedent.
In response, Google has claimed that France’s push for the regulation falls short on two fronts–jurisdiction, and precedent.
Kent Walker, Senior Vice President, and General Counsel for Google explains why Google doesn’t want to adhere to more censorship.
“For hundreds of years, it has been an accepted rule of law that one country should not have the right to impose its rules on the citizens of other nations. As a result, information that is illegal in one country can be perfectly legal in others: Thailand outlaws insults to its king; Brazil outlaws negative campaigning in political elections; Turkey outlaws speech that denigrate Ataturk or the Turkish nation — but each of these things is legal elsewhere. As a company that operates globally we work hard to respect these differences.”
In short, Google aptly understands that global censorship would have horrible effects on free speech and worldwide news. If laws start expanding past countries and pushing regulations onto others, horrible things could happen.
“”This is not just a hypothetical concern. We have received demands from governments to remove content globally on various grounds — and we have resisted, even if that has sometimes led to the blocking of our services.”
Bad things being global censorship, and this regulation push from France could open the door to dictators and countries like China controlling what the world should or should not see.
It’s bad enough that China can control what it’s own user base can or can not see–as it’s their government’s belief that they should have internet sovereignty. Now France is pushing towards something bigger and perhaps even more problematic. An internet controlled by governments each pushing for more and more control.
Google, while it’s no perfect standard for privacy–as it collects terabytes of information from users to sell ads and otherwise monetize their company, is in the right here.
Internet freedom and censorship cannot continue down this dangerous path. Instead, users deserve their privacy, and they deserve to see the internet the way it is rather than the way governments decide it should be.
Tools like VPN are often the last hope in fighting back censorship in places like EU and China where Google has to bend a little bit or be blocked altogether. Use a VPN service like TorGuard to uncensor the internet with fast speeds, industry leading encryption, and a vast server network that ensures stable connections wherever you are.