It looks like Russia is getting close to being the next country to possibly pass the “right to be forgotten” law, as they are only a couple votes away from passing it. There are some critics who say this law, if passed, would be impossible to follow while also preventing citizens from accessing important information online.
As we know, the European Union has their own right to be forgotten law that allows citizens to submit links to specific web pages and ask that those pages to be removed from search results related to the person’s name. In the EU’s criteria, the search engines have the right to evaluate whether or not the person making the request is a public figure or private citizen, or whether there is any public interest regarding the information.
The proposed law in Russia goes a lot further, according to the New York Times:
At its core, the proposal is similar to one approved by a top European court last year that forced Google to start removing links from search results for individuals’ names, but has two major differences that push the Russian law far beyond the way the idea is being applied in Europe.
In Europe, Google set up a process so people could point out links they wanted removed from their own name-search results, along with an explanation of why the content was “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”
In the Russian version, however, people wouldn’t have to provide specific hyperlinks — but merely say what information they want deleted, giving their right a far greater reach than their European counterparts.
Furthermore, the Russian version extends the right to erasure to public figures and information that is considered in the public interest. In Europe, public figures are not included in the right to be forgotten.
If the law passes, Russia’s law would apply world wide, which is basically what Google and the European countries are currently fighting over.
There has been some criticism from Yandex, Russia’s biggest search engine, over the law in a blog post, saying it “impedes people’s access to important and reliable information, or makes it impossible to obtain such information.”
Beyond the information access issues, Yandex also says the law creates a burden on search engines that would be technically impossible to implement.
Instead of deleting hyperlinks to specific web pages from search results, a search engine is expected to stop retrieving a piece of information on any search terms and regardless of its location on the internet. For this to become plausible, a search engine operator would have to find all pages containing this information that might appear in any place in search results triggered by any search term that a human mind can come up with. This step alone would take eternity. The next steps would require a search engine operator to make sure that these pages do contain the information hyperlinks to which were requested to be removed, and then confirm that this information is indeed inadequate or older than three years old. It is obvious that this is an impossible task.
The New York Times says that the bill will need only two more votes and the president’s signature to become law. If this happens, the law would go into effect on January 1, 2016.