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Google wins EU fight against ‘right to be forgotten’ worldwide

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Google is not required to apply an EU “right to be forgotten” to its search engine domains outside Europe, the EU’s top court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision.

The European Court of Justice handed victory to Google in the case, seen as crucial in determining whether EU online regulation should apply beyond Europe’s borders or not.

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The US internet giant had argued that the removal of search results required under EU law should not extend to its google.com domain or its other non-EU sites.

The court ruled that, while a search engine operator such as Google must carry out “de-referencing” of links as demanded by a regulator or court in an EU state to all European versions of its sites, that “right to be forgotten” did not need to go further.

“There is no obligation under EU law” for search engine operators such as Google “to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine,” the court said.

The case, seen as pitting individuals’ rights to privacy online against freedom of information, stemmed from a legal battle waged by France since 2014 to have Google apply the “right to be forgotten” to all its search domains.

If France had won, it could have deepened a rift between Europe and the United States, which is home to most of the internet’s behemoths and whose President Donald Trump has railed against what he sees as EU meddling in US business.

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In the end, though, the EU court found that EU law on the issue did not seek to have its “right to be forgotten” extend beyond its borders.

Google hailed Tuesday’s decision by the EU court.

“It’s good to see that the court agreed with our arguments,” its lawyer, Peter Fleischer, said in a statement, adding that Google has worked “to strike a sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy”.

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The US company and other stakeholders had warned that authoritarian countries outside Europe could abuse global de-referencing requests to cover up rights violations.

– Closely watched case –

Google’s position was bolstered in January by a non-binding opinion from the EU court’s top legal advisor, advocate general Maciej Szpunar, that recommended the judges “should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out, to the EU”.

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The case had been closely watched, especially as Europe has also already emerged as a global rule-setter in terms of data protection on the internet.

A 2016 General Data Protection Regulation it enacted that covers all EU citizens and residents has forced many sites and companies around the globe to comply with its measures.

In terms of the “right to be forgotten” legal fight, France’s data regulator, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), had argued that, for de-referencing to be effective, it must apply to all domains wherever they are.

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In 2016, CNIL fined Google 100,000 euros ($110,000) for non-compliance. Google appealed to France’s highest court, which in turn referred to the European Court of Justice, ending up with Tuesday’s ruling.


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Trump has rolled out a ‘new scam’ amid internal turmoil over Fauci: op-ed

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Writing in the Washington Post this Thursday, Greg Sargent takes a look at the Trump's administration's recent walkback of its attempts to undermine its top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, after they discovered that it wasn't being received by the public so well.

According to Sargent, President Trump's "new scam" is to present the image that his administration actually respects Fauci's advice while continuing to undermine him behind the scenes.

"What’s really going on here is a kind of two-step, a double game," Sargent writes. "Trump and his advisers want him to reap the political benefits of appearing to harbor general respect for Fauci’s expertise, while simultaneously continuing to undermine Fauci’s actual claims about the threat the novel coronavirus will continue to pose — because those claims badly undermine Trump’s reelection message."

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2020 Election

GOP strategist who wrote party’s 2012 autopsy says she hopes the party loses this year

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Former Republican strategist Sally Bradshaw, who wrote the GOP's so-called "autopsy" after its 2012 election losses, is hoping the party comes crashing down in defeat this fall.

In an email to NPR, Bradshaw conceded that the 2012 election postmortem was "obviously a failure," given that President Donald Trump had taken over the party in 2016 by explicitly ignoring its recommendations about taking a more inclusive approach to immigration reform.

However, she also seemed to think that the GOP's bill for not becoming a more inclusive party had finally come due given its failures to govern through a deadly pandemic that so far has claimed the lives of 137,000 Americans with no end in sight.

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Brutal video targeting moms hits Trump for trying to hurt their children by returning to school in pandemic

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President Donald Trump and Education Sec. Betsy DeVos announced this month that schools must reopen regardless of the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic. Republican leaders have maintained that not being in school is so detrimental to the development of children that parents must risk their lives and the lives of their families, teachers, principals, and other school administration members.

Author Don Winslow posted a video directed at mothers recalling all of the great moments in a child's development from their first words to their first steps and their first days of school.

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