Will GDPR change the way content censorship is regulated in the UK?

Internet censorship isn't exclusive to places in the middle and far east like Iran and China. It exists in a myriad of variants in many places in the west as well.

In Canada, the supreme court ruled in favour of a temporary mandate requirement for results of a competing company to be removed not only from google.ca but from cases in other companies too.

European courts ruled in favour of a Spanish man who built a case against google due to search results containing embarrassing financial information. The case is now widely known as the 'right to be forgotten' which is the core basis for the GDPR rule coming into effect in May 2018. The court ruled for google and other search engines to remove results appearing to be inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive in relation to when results were processed in light of the time of which had since passed by.

An Argentinian model assembled cases against both google and yahoo demanding for their respective search engines to remove images that were linking her to pornographic websites. A statement from Yahoo! said they receive over 100 million requests a year to remove personal data relating to copyright concerns.

UK Internet users are prevented from accessing many websites by default as access is filtered by internet service providers. Users must opt out of ISP filtering to access blocked content if they wish to do so.

In the US, many government-authorised bids to regulate content have been prevented on first amendment grounds after many lengthy legal tear ups. The government indirectly exerts pressure where it cannot apply lawful censorship. Content restriction tends to rely on removing content as opposed to preventing it. These controls often rely on nation state supported private parties or waging a lawful threat of legal action.

Many countries subject ISP's to state mandates but content in the US is often privately or freely regulated.

 

Is GDPR a catalyst to open the floodgates for western censorship?

Debating the right to be forgotten vs. censorship could prove complicated and lead to labyrinthian results.

Could a corporation use their understanding of how someone uses a search engine and their internet service provider as an indirect method to apply pressure on an individual to enforce censorship?

Could this be a potential threat to anybody depending on who they be, their standing in society, position in the community, their geographic location, or do I happen to be wearing the freshest tin foil hat?

 

Huw Tremlett

Data Management Consultant

Huw Tremlett