On Wednesday, the Reporters Committee submitted comments to the United Kingdom's Data Protection Team on the "right to be forgotten," which beginning next year will be enforced under the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
As written in the Data Protection Team's call for views, while the GDPR is somewhat limited in scope for flexibility, "there are derogations (exemptions) within the GDPR where the U.K. can exercise discretion over how certain provisions will apply."
Our comments pertain to potential discretionary readings of Articles 17 and 85 of the GDPR. First, we wrote that Article 17's "erasure" obligation should not be extended to Online Service Providers such as Facebook or Twitter, or it will have profound negative effects on the news media and freedom of expression online. Second, we wrote to recommend that Article 85 – which sets out an exception for "journalistic purposes" – be applied broadly to ensure protection under international principles protecting the right to information and freedom of expression.
These comments follow the Reporters Committee's 2016 brief written on behalf of 29 news organizations and filed in the French courts in La société Google Inc. v. La Commission nationale informatique et libertés ("Google v. CNIL"), No. 399.922 (Conseil d’Etat, filed Nov. 4, 2016). In that brief, we similarly argued that forcing Google to de-list information on its servers worldwide had immense potential to harm freedom of expression and the right to receive information around the globe.