Oxford professor: rules of the internet will be ‘forgotten’


A European Court ruling means the old rules of the internet will no longer apply, an Oxford Professor has warned.

A new European Union Court of Justice ruling which makes it easier for people to apply to have their personal data removed from the internet has sparked concern among some.

The ruling states that data deemed ‘irrelevant’ should be erased on request so that people may exercise their ‘right to be forgotten’.

Search engine giant Google, who deemed the ruling, ‘disappointing’, has appointed an Oxford Professor to work out how it should comply with the new law. Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information and Fellow of St. Cross College, has said that the ruling will change the rules of the internet. He told The Independent that the ruling, “raised the bar so high that the old rules of the internet no longer apply.” He also said that if he was the chief executive of a reputation management company, he would be “laughing”, explaining, “They now have the power to ask for embarrassing information about their clients to be removed.”

Floridi’s remarks come as Google announced that on Friday 30 May, 12,000 requests were made from people across Europe, hoping to have their personal details removed. Of these, 1,500 are believed to have been from the UK and The Independent reports that one request came from a former MP seeking re-election.

The ruling has been made following a case brought by a Spanish man who argued that information concerning the sale of a property he’d made sixteen years ago to recover money he owed was available online and was an infringement on his privacy.

EU commissioner Viviane Reading called the ruling “a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans”. However, the BBC’s Technology correspondent, Rory Cellan-Jones, said that Google was both “surprised and furious” at the outcome.

He said, “Can anyone who does not like an old story about them simply demand that it is wiped away? That does appear to be the case – the ruling says the rights of the individual are paramount when it comes to their control over their personal data, although there is a public interest defence when it comes to people in public life.”

A second year PPE student at Oxford told Cherwell, “I actually agree with the EU commissioner that the ruling is basically a good thing. It assigns utmost importance to the protection of individual liberties such as personal privacy which I think is a very positive step. It’s especially important in today’s world when we have ‘Big Brother’ governments and all-seeing supercomputers and search engines.”



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