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On Its Own, Europe Backs Web Privacy Fights

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Fernando Prez

Fernando Prez, publisher of a Spanish government publication, says that "maybe there is information that has a life cycle."

Courtesy of Marta Ramoneda for The New York Times

European regulators are increasingly embracing the concept of giving people the right to be forgotten on the Web by providing them with greater control over their Internet data.

Spain, for example, has ordered Google to cease indexing information about 90 citizens who formally complained to its Data Protection Agency. Meanwhile, Google released a statement warning that requiring search engines to ignore some information "would have a profound chilling effect on free expression without protecting people's privacy."

European courts diverge from U.S. courts in their support of Web privacy, with Georgetown University professor Franz Werro noting that Europe recognizes the need to balance freedom of speech and the right to know against an individual's right to privacy or dignity.

A recent European Union poll found that 75 percent of Europeans expressed concern about how Internet companies used their data and wanted the right to erase personal data at any time. Experts say that Google and other search engines view some of these court cases as a threat to already established legal precepts that search engines are not accountable for the information they aggregate from the Web.

From The New York Times
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