In a surprisingly low-key response to a European court decision that individuals can require Google to remove links to sensitive information, executive chairman Eric Schmidt said that the court had got the balance wrong, and its chief legal officer say that the ruling was “disappointing” and “went too far,” reports the WSJ.
In response to a question at Google’s annual shareholder meeting, Schmidt said the case reflects “a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know.” A balance must be struck between those two objectives, Schmidt added and ”Google believes … that the balance that was struck was wrong.”
The European Union Court of Justice ruled that individuals could ask for the removal of links to information about them which was accurate where the passage of time made it “out-dated or irrelevant.”
Shareholders also raised concerns about the the controversial stock split that gave Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin 56 percent of the voting rights despite owning only 15 percent of the company.
Page said that the company’s goal is “making major investments in things that take a little longer to get done” and that by adding the new non-voting shares Google can avoid the “quarter to quarter focus” that he said plagues other public companies.
I have to admit sympathy with this view: too many public companies are forced by shareholders to focus on short-term financials rather than longer-term goals. Given Google’s record to date, it would be hard to argue that the co-founders are getting things too wrong …