The EU - GDPR, Right To Be Forgotten - wants to control search engines globally


Nov 10, 2016
The EU's 'Right To Be Forgotten' Shows Once Again How Little The EU Understands About The Web
by Kalev Leetaru,
June 7, 2019

The European Union has emerged as a model of legislative intervention, with efforts from GDPR to the Right to be Forgotten to new efforts to allow EU lawmakers to censor international criticism of themselves. GDPR has backfired spectacularly, stripping away the EU’s previous privacy protections and largely exempting the most dangerous and privacy-invading activities it was touted to address. Yet it is the EU’s efforts to project its censorship powers globally that present the greatest risk to the future of the Web and demonstrate just how little the EU actually understands about how the internet works.

The EU’s efforts to legislate its way to global internet censor have been in the news again this week with an advocate general opinion from the EU Court of Justice arguing that the EU should have the right to censor content globally. In reaching for the ability to control what citizens of other countries say outside EU borders, the EU risks setting an extraordinarily dangerous precedent that would permit the world’s repressive regimes to control global speech.

This week’s opinion is not the EU’s first foray into attempting to exercise the powers of global censor. Perhaps most famously, the EU has increasingly attempted to expand the impact of its so-called “Right to be Forgotten” protections to include the right to force search engines to remove content globally rather than only within the EU.

If the EU were able to force search engines in the United States to remove all content from their US search indexes that EU citizens wished removed, the EU would now have the ability to control what American citizens were able to see.
Putting this all together, the EU’s failure to understand how the Web works and the unintended consequences of its actions reminds us about the grave dangers when non-technical politicians seek to regulate complex technologies in a globalized world.

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