In a recent landmark decision the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has held that Google cannot deny the Right to Be Forgotten to its users. This decision would further strengthen the efforts of European Union to protect privacy rights and data protection amid global e-surveillance practices. The result of this decision is that the Right to Be Forgotten can now be enforced against Google in Europe. In fact, takedown requests have already been made to Google and companies like Yahoo, Microsoft, etc are also exploring various legal possibilities in this regard.
Google has termed this decision as amounting to censorship. However, Google itself has been engaging in censorship around the world and this stand of Google cannot be supported.
Google can already be approached for removal of objectionable contents as per the laws of United States. However, this is a problematic solution as Google refuses to obey laws of other countries, including India. While Indian government is taking Google lightly yet many individuals have dragged Google to Indian Courts on numerous occasions. Google is presently fighting an online defamation case at Supreme Court of India. Nevertheless the attitude of Google vis-à-vis compliance with Indian laws is more on the side of defiance than compliance.
Foreign companies and websites do so easily in India as Indian government has not taken “Techno Legal Steps” against them. As a result Companies like Google, Facebook, etc are openly Violating Indian Laws and “Blatantly Refusing” to entertain and respect Indian Legal Requests for Information.
Even the much hyped Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) has its own “Limitations” to make the offending People/Companies liable as per Indian Laws. For instance, recently U.S. blocked India’s MLAT attempt to make Google, Facebook, etc to comply with Indian Laws. So what would Indian Government do if these Companies and Websites do not comply with Indian Laws and if they cannot be “Compelled” to comply with Indian Laws through MLAT and other mechanisms as well?
Foreign companies and websites have been ignoring the cyber law due diligence (PDF) and internet intermediary liability as prescribed by Information technology Act, 2000 (IT Act 2000). It is common among these companies to deny compliance under the IT Act 2000 and ask for court orders for even those compliance requirements that have been prescribed by different laws of India. As a result, cyber litigations against foreign companies are going to increase in the near future.
Indian courts must ensure that Google complies with Indian laws. Indian legislature and Indian courts must also ensure that right to be forgotten must also be made part and parcel of the proposed privacy law of India.