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European regulations demanding web censorship 'will turn Google into censor-in-chief for EU'

London, Wed, 15 Feb 2012 ANI

London, Feb 15 (ANI): A leading British lawyer has condemned new European regulations that force websites to delete data on users' request, saying such rules could transform search engines like Google into a 'censor-in-chief for the European Union, rather than a neutral platform'.


According to the current European proposal from Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, various websites will be forced to delete information shortly after consumers request it be removed.


If they do not comply, a fine of up to two per cent of a firm's global turnover could be imposed, The Telegraph reports.


Prof Jeffrey Rosen, writing in the Stanford Law Review, is a legal publication run by Stanford Law School students since 1948, argued that the fear of fines will have a chilling effect, and that it will be hard to enforce across the Internet when information is widely disseminated.


"Although Reding depicted the new right as a modest expansion of existing data privacy rights, in fact it represents the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet in the coming decade," Rosen, wrote.


"Unless the right is defined more precisely when it is promulgated over the next year or so, it could precipitate a dramatic clash between European and American conceptions of the proper balance between privacy and free speech, leading to a far less open Internet," he added.


Prof Rosen raised the further fear that "the proposed European regulation treats takedown requests for truthful information posted by others identically to takedown requests for photos I've posted myself that have then been copied by others."


He warns that if the regulations are implemented as currently proposed, "it's hard to imagine that the Internet results will be as free and open as it is now." (ANI)


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