EU court will strike the gavel on Google rights – FB & GOOG

Boston, MA 02/27/2013 (wallstreetpr) – The European Union’s top court will be setting clear-cut boundaries between data-protection rights and freedom of expression and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is protesting. In a case, the company argued that it should not have to remove any of its search engine content that had been legally published elsewhere. Francisco Enrique Gonzalez-Diaz, the Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) lawyer averred before a 15-judge panel at a hearing that was held at the EU Court of Justice that Google is not a data controller. On the contrary, it is not more than an intermediary with reference to the data that is indexed by it.

Questions have been raised

He went on to argue that asking the company to bow down to direct requests of personal information removal from its search engine (irrespective of whether it had been added online by any newspaper), would amount to censoring information. It would effectively mean that the responsibility was being fundamentally shifted to the search engine from the publisher. This dispute has raised a few more questions-The scope and reach of EU privacy rules as far as personal data on the web is concerned, a search engine’s right to use any online data to maintaining its commercial profitability and who is in ultimate charge of what happens to that data. Any ruling that the Luxembourg-based court passes will be binding over the entire 27-nation bloc.

Harming individuals

Spain’s data protection authority had ordered Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) to remove information about people in close to 200 different instances and this had been the trigger of the case. The latest case concerned a man from Spain whose house had been auctioned due to his inability to pay taxes. This information had been published by the La Vanguardia newspaper in 1998 and could still be pulled up via a Google search. The man was represented by his lawyer Joaquin Munoz Rodriguez who stated before the EU court that information such as this does serious harm to individuals like his client. Information that is ordered and tracked by Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) contains a lot of personal data and that the company has to be held responsible as it permits quick and easy access to information that otherwise would not have been found online earlier.

Profits at the expense of individual privacy

Google has been stepping up competition for its advertisers and users against its rival Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and the fact that it had set up privacy policies last year that were uniform for over 60 products had brought it under a lot of criticism from consumer advocates and regulators alike. The issue about whether search engines should be primarily held responsible for data that they supply will be resolved only when the EU court passes its final order.

Shares of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) went down by 0.08% to close at $790.13

Shares of Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) went down by 0.44% to close at $27.39

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Published by Steve Hackney

Steve Hackney is a corporate finance professional with over 14 years of experience in cash management and investing. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Florida State University and holds a Certified Treasury Professional certification. Steve lives in Orlando, Florida with his family.

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