Google case set to examine if EU data rules extend globally

Google is taking its legal fight against an order requiring it to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally to Europe's top court. (AP File Photo)
Updated 10 September 2018
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Google case set to examine if EU data rules extend globally

LONDON: Google is going to Europe's top court in its legal fight against an order requiring it to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally.
The technology giant is set for a showdown at the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Tuesday with France's data privacy regulator over an order to remove search results worldwide upon request.
The dispute pits data privacy concerns against the public's right to know, while also raising thorny questions about how to enforce differing legal jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.
The two sides will be seeking clarification on a 2015 decision by the French regulator requiring Google to remove results for all its search engines on request, and not just on European country sites like google.fr.
Google declined to comment ahead of the hearing. Its general counsel, Kent Walker, said in a blog post in November that complying with the order "would encourage other countries, including less democratic regimes, to try to impose their values on citizens in the rest of the world."
"These cases represent a serious assault on the public's right to access lawful information," he added.
In an unusual move, the court has allowed a collection of press freedom, free speech and civil rights groups to submit their opinions on the case. These groups agree with Google that forcing internet companies to remove website links threatens access to information and could pave the way for censorship by more authoritarian regimes such as China, Russia and Saudi Arabia.
The court's ruling is expected within months. It will be preceded by an opinion from the court's advocate general.
The case stems from a landmark 2014 Court of Justice ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. That decision forced Google to delete links to outdated or embarrassing personal information that popped up in searches of their names.
Authorities are now starting to worry about the risk that internet users can easily turn to proxy servers and virtual private networks to spoof their location, allowing them to dig up the blocked search results.
Google said in its most recent transparency report that it has received requests to delete about 2.74 million web links since the ruling, and has deleted about 44 percent of them.
Not all requests are waved through. In a related case that will also be heard Tuesday, the EU court will be asked to weigh in on a request by four people in France who want their search results to be purged of any information about their political beliefs and criminal records, without taking into account public interest. Google had rejected their request, which was ultimately referred to the ECJ.


Trial to open for Philippine journalist critical of Duterte

Philippine journalist Maria Ressa waves to photographers after posting bail outside a court building in Manila on March 29, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 23 July 2019
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Trial to open for Philippine journalist critical of Duterte

  • Duterte, who denies being behind the case, has singled out Rappler for criticism, also banning it from covering his public events and forbidding government officials from talking to Rappler reporters

MANILA: High-profile Philippine journalist Maria Ressa’s libel trial opens Tuesday in a case that press freedom advocates see as government retaliation for her news site’s critical reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte.
Ressa, who leads online outlet Rappler and was named a Time Magazine “Person of the Year” in 2018 for her journalism, is out on bail and faces years in prison if convicted.
This case is among a string of criminal charges that have hit Ressa and Rappler over the past year, prompting allegations that authorities are targeting her and her team for their work,
The news portal has reported extensively and often critically on Duterte’s policies, including a deadly crackdown that rights groups say may be a crime against humanity.
“The message that the government is sending is very clear,” Ressa told reporters in February as she posted bail after spending the night in jail over the libel case: “Be silent or you’re next.”
The case that opens Tuesday centers on a Rappler report from 2012 about a businessman’s alleged ties to a then-judge of the nation’s top court.
Government investigators initially dismissed the businessman’s 2017 complaint about the article, but state prosecutors later decided to file charges.
The legal foundation of the case is a controversial “cybercrime law” aimed at online offenses ranging from stalking to child pornography.
Ressa, 55, argues the law did not take effect until months after the story was published.
Government lawyers say it is effectively a new article since Rappler had updated it in 2014 to fix a typographical error.
While the plaintiff is a private citizen, like all criminal cases in the Philippines the suit is prosecuted by government lawyers.
Ressa and Rappler also face tax and corporate fraud cases.
Ressa’s presence in court is not mandatory and she is not expected to attend the hearing, according to Rappler.
The libel case has drawn international attention, with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressing concern over democratic rights.
Prominent rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who joined Ressa’s legal team this month, said the case echoed a recurring theme in her work, where “journalists who expose abuses face arrest while those who commit the abuses do so with impunity.”
Duterte, who denies being behind the case, has singled out Rappler for criticism, also banning it from covering his public events and forbidding government officials from talking to Rappler reporters.