EU says few people are appealing ‘right to be forgotten’ rulings, most denials justified

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Google controls most of the search engine market in Europe, and as a result receives most ‘right to be forgotten’ requests, those things where individuals can request the de-listing of links to sensitive information about themselves that are deemed out-dated or irrelevant. But more than half of requests are denied, and of those that are appealed, most of those are too denied – which the European Union says is just fine.

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France gives Google 15 days to expand right-to-be-forgotten worldwide or face sanctions

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Google has so far been meeting the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling in Europe by removing links only from the local site for each country – google.com remaining unaffected. A French court ruled last November that removing links from google.fr was insufficient, and ordered Google to remove the links worldwide.

Google ignored the ruling, and Reuters now reports that the French data protection regulator CNIL has given the company 15 days to comply before imposing sanctions …  Read more

Report: European mobile networks to block Google & other web ads, threatening free sites

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The Financial Times is reporting that European mobile carriers are planning to block Google and other web ads in order to reduce demands on their networks and break Google’s hold on advertising (via TNW).

According to the story, which cites anonymous sources, the carriers have installed software from Israeli ad-blocking firm Shine in their data centers to block advertising in Web pages and apps, but not social networks.

Many websites, 9to5Google among them, depend on ad revenue to deliver free content to their readers. Any move to block ads could have far-reaching consequences …  Read more

Google reveals easy & difficult ‘Right to be forgotten’ cases, as possible compromise emerges

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The controversy over the ‘right to be forgotten‘ by Google has often seemed destined to run forever, Google arguing that it was being asked to make “difficult and debatable judgements” based on “very vague and subjective tests,” while European courts said that the company wasn’t fully complying with the law.

Google said that it was complying with court orders by removing “outdated or irrelevant” sensitive information about individuals from its European sites, while leaving the .com site untouched. European courts want Google to remove results from google.com also.

A piece in the WSJ suggests that a compromise may be reached, however, as Google revealed examples of what it described as easy and difficult cases …  Read more

What analysts expect from Google’s earnings call later today, and how to listen in

A neon Google logo is seen as employees work at the new Google office in Toronto

Re/code has a roundup of what analysts are expecting from Google this afternoon, when the company announces its Q1 earnings and provides at least a little guidance on the future.

Consensus estimates are for net revenue of $14.12 billion, a 16 percent uptick year over year. Currency winds could drag down the numbers.

Google isn’t expected to reveal much information about its future plans, but analysts expect at least some degree of clarity in three areas, says the piece …  Read more

EU files formal antitrust complaint against Google, begins separate Android investigation. Google responds

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As expected, the EU has formally accused Google of abusing its dominant position in search to favor links to its own products over those offered by competitors. The complaint takes the form of a Statement of Objections: a formal method of announcing that it believes Google has acted illegally and that a full investigation is underway.

The Commission’s preliminary view is that such conduct infringes EU antitrust rules because it stifles competition and harms consumers. EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that “Google now has the opportunity to convince the Commission to the contrary. However, if the investigation confirmed our concerns, Google would have to face the legal consequences and change the way it does business in Europe.”

Google has not wasted any time in attempting to convince the Commission otherwise, arguing in a blog post that the evidence shows that Google has not harmed traffic to competitor websites …  Read more

Google expected to face formal European antitrust charges tomorrow

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Update: the EU Commission has now filed its complaint

It doesn’t sound good for Google in Europe where the company has faced continued criticism, some comical and some less so, for using its dominant 90+% search share to give advantages to its other properties and squash competitors. FT:

Google will on Wednesday be accused by Brussels of illegally abusing its dominance of the internet search market in Europe, a step that ultimately could force it to change its business model fundamentally and pay hefty fines. Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s competition commissioner, is to say that the US group will soon be served with a formal charge sheet alleging that it breached antitrust rules by diverting traffic from rivals to favour its own services, according to two people familiar with the case.

The NYTimes:

Europe’s competition chief, Margrethe Vestager, is expected to make an announcement that Google has abused its dominant position on Wednesday in Brussels, according to two people who spoke on Tuesday on the condition of anonymity…

“The E.U. competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, will decide what steps they want to go,” Günther Oettinger, a German politician who is charge of Europe’s digital economy, told Die Welt am Sonntag, a German newspaper, on Sunday. “I think that they will be far-reaching.”

Google has yet to comment on the matter but if Google fails to rebut any formal charges, Ms. Vestager could “levy a huge fine that could go above 6 billion euros, or $6.4 billion, amounting to about 10 percent of Google’s most recent annual revenue”.

Google stock is off 2 points today.

Image via TNW

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Report: EU preparing to file antitrust charges against Google

File photo shows people walking by a YouTube sign at the new Google office in Toronto

According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the European Commission is preparing to file antitrust charges against Google. The charges come after a five-year long investigation that’s stalled three times and caused strong political divides in Europe.

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Spanish newspapers drive Google News out of Spain, then ask Government to force it to return

Google's Madrid offices

Google’s Madrid offices

Most newspapers were slow to get the hang of the Internet, and Spanish ones more than most, it appears. After successfully lobbying for a law which would force Google to pay them every time it quoted even the smallest excerpt of a story in its Google News search results, Google responded by closing the service in Spain.

Belatedly realising they will now be missing out on all the traffic Google used to drive to their websites, the Spanish newspaper publishers’ association AEDE is asking the government to force Google to re-open the service, reports The Spain Report …  Read more

European Court of Justice publishes ‘Right to be forgotten’ guidelines – and they are vague

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More than six months after handing down its controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling, in which individuals in Europe have the right to have ‘inaccurate, outdated or irrelevant’ links deleted from search engine results, the European Court of Justice has finally published guidelines on how the ruling should be applied.

While the guidelines acknowledge the need to balance the rights of the individual against the public interest, the specifics are best described as vague …  Read more

European Parliament approves proposal to break up Google – but it doesn’t mean much

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A European Parliament motion calling for the breakup of Google, separating out the search business from the company’s other activities, has been overwhelmingly approved, reports the WSJ.

In a vote in Strasbourg, 384 legislators voted in favor of the controversial initiative, with 174 against and 56 abstentions […]

“Clear adoption by the EP of Digital Single Market motion, including unbundling for search engine if needed,” tweeted Ramon Tremosa I Balcells, a lawmaker from Spain who backed the proposal.

The vote comes just a day after a separate European call for the controversial ‘right to be forgotten‘ ruling to be extended to google.com as well as the European versions of its sites …  Read more