Tuesday’s ruling by a European court that search engines like Google can be forced to take down links online “could undermine press freedoms and free speech,” The New York Times warned.
The newspaper’s editorial board on Wednesday said that the broad ruling on the “right to be forgotten” could “open the floodgates” for Europeans demanding that websites remove information about them, even if it is true.
“The desire to allow individuals to erase data that they no longer wish to disclose is understandable,” the board wrote. “But lawmakers should not create a right so powerful that it could limit press freedoms or allow individuals to demand that lawful information in a news archive be hidden.”
The European Union Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that privacy laws allow a person to force websites like Google to take down information about them “under certain conditions.”
The decision sent shockwaves through the tech community. Companies quickly expressed fear that it could lead to censorship of information on websites across the Internet.
In addition to the substance of the decision, the Times editorial board also worried that the high court “provided little guidance” about when links should be removed in the future. That could lead to confusion when lower courts try to decide when links could be taken down, it said.