Luciano Floridi

Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford and Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute, has been appointed as a member of Google’s Advisory Council on the Right to be Forgotten.

The committee is tasked with advising the search provider on how it should comply with the recent landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice that has granted citizens in 28 EU member states the right to petition search engines to remove links to sites containing information that they deem “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant”.

Following Google’s announcement of a webform that makes it easier to request the removal of search results, tens of thousands of removal requests have been made by people across Europe. The ruling has also sparked widespread debate on how freedom of expression and the right to know should be balanced with the “right to be forgotten.”

In order to navigate the ethical and legal challenges of the ruling, Google has today announced an expert advisory council that will examine the ethical and legal challenges of removing links. Philosopher Luciano Floridi joins nine other committee members, including Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, David Drummond, Google’s Chief Legal Officer, and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales.

Luciano Floridi said recently: “Most experts agree that current European data protection law is outdated. Rather than merely adapting previous legislation, or tinkering with current technologies, we need new and bold ideas. This open discussion is essential and in this vein, I look forward to being part of the advisory board of external and independent experts consulting to Google.”

Referring to the current debate about ‘digital forgetting’, he added: “Nobody is trying to destroy the internet, whitewash history, undermine an industry, or override one fundamental human right in favour of another. There are different rights, values, and interests – indeed different philosophies — at stake. We do not know yet how to harmonise them, but our effort should go towards finding a collaborative solution – a context in which all legitimate interests, rights, and values are represented.”

The advisory council will hold consultations in Europe this autumn. It will also invite contributions from government, business, media, academia, the technology sector, data protection organizations and other organizations with a particular interest in the area, to surface and discuss the challenging issues at the intersection of the right to know and the right to privacy.

Luciano Floridi is best known for his foundational research on the philosophy of information and information ethics, two new research areas that he has contributed to establish.