Government pushes for web data removal

Ed Vaizey has proposed a mediation service between customers and ISPs to remove incorrect data from the internet.

Parliament

The Government has proposed a new service whereby citizens could ask for data to be removed from the web by internet service providers (ISP) if they feel it is incorrect.

The scheme was put forward by the minister for Communication, Culture and the Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, who claimed people should be able to address concerns about privacy breaches and incorrect data about themselves appearing online.

During a speech to the House of Commons at the end of last week, he compared the idea to the service Nominet offers around deciding the responsibility of domain names.

"It is certainly worth the Government brokering a conversation with the internet industry about setting up a mediation service for consumers who have legitimate concerns that their privacy has been breached or that online information about them is inaccurate or constitutes a gross invasion of their privacy to discuss whether there is any way to remove access to that information," said Vaizey.

However, the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) voiced concerns over the plans, defending the processes ISPs had in place already for removing illegal content and abusive material.

A spokesperson said: "ISPA is concerned about the potential for any additional burden on ISPs and questions for example how a mediation service would work with content hosted outside the UK."

Vaizey admitted in his speech many ISPs would deem the scheme "almost impossible" but added: "One wants at least to attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet companies, as they would be able to do if a newspaper had inadvertently published that information."

He concluded by confirming he intended to write to a number of ISPs and websites, including Google and Facebook, to organise a meeting to discuss the idea further.

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