Russia is getting its own “right to be forgotten”

The inside story.
The inside story.
Image: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk
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Last May, the European Court of Justice ruled that search engines would, on receiving a valid claim from an individual, have to delete links (pdf) to web pages that were ”inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive for the purpose of the data processing.” At the time, Google reacted peevishly to the “right to be forgotten” ruling, but eventually came to see that fighting the EU is pointless. The ruling stayed, links to rubbish sites started disappearing, and the freedom of the press, much worried over, remained intact.

Where European policymakers lead, especially when it comes to consumer rights on the internet, others follow. So it is with the right to be forgotten. According to Vedomosti (link in Russian), a Russian news site, the “State Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technology and Communications has approved the adoption of a bill requiring search engines to remove links to personal information about citizens.” The law could go into effect by January 2016.

According to Politico, the law will work a lot like the European one, with one caveat: unlike in Europe, where the public interest is a legitimate reason for a search engine to decline a request to remove a link, the public interest exception does not apply in Russia.

Yandex, Russia’s leading search engine and web services provider, is arguing strongly against it, telling the Russian news agency Interfax (link in Russian) that “the mechanism proposed in the draft law undermines the basic principles of the placement and retrieval of information on the internet” according to a translation provided by Russia Insider.

The right to be forgotten is slowly spreading to other territories outside Europe. Google has been ordered to remove negative anonymous reviews in Japan as well.