Google ruling, Pfizer boss grilled and World Cup 'Rio-bocops'

There are mixed reactions in the press to a ruling by European judges over what has been dubbed the "right to be forgotten" on the internet.

Among those cheered by the judgement, which gives individuals a right to request that search engines remove links deemed "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant", is ex-Formula One boss Max Mosley. The Times says he's been trying for years to stop images of him participating in an orgy appearing on Google searches.

It's a "big step in the right direction" towards regulation and protection of privacy, he's quoted as saying.

However, the Daily Telegraph complains that "all Google does is act as a signpost for data that exists lawfully elsewhere" and wonders: "Will the next target for the court be newspaper archives themselves - or any historic data, for that matter?"

Those arguing for and against stricter internet privacy laws are given space in the Guardian. academic Viktor Mayer-Schonberger says: "It is not just that we find ourselves in a straitjacket of the past that we cannot shake." Special projects editor James Ball, on the other hand, argues that "privacy is great, but trying to reverse-engineer it through law is an act of hubris".

Likewise, the Independent reckons it's "fine in principle but fiendish in practice". It says: "We can only hope that the assertion of an individual's right to resize their digital footprint does not scuff over too much of the web, and filter out information of legitimate public interest."

The Daily Mail fears otherwise, saying: "The edict will allow the likes of debtors and dodgy car dealers and workmen to censor a chequered past, since there will be no way of finding the information."

Meanwhile, the Financial Times says: "It will create legal uncertainty and expose internet companies to disproportionate compliance costs and creeping censorship. All told, this risks undermining the world-wide web as a global commons."

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Drugs dilemma

Pfizer Chief Executive Ian Read leaves after appearing at a parliamentary business and enterprise committee hearing at Portcullis House in London Image copyright Reuters

The Daily Mail notes that the chief executive of British-based pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca admitted the firm could sell out to US rival Pfizer, for the right price, "just hours after telling MPs the controversial bid could cost lives by delaying the development of anti-cancer drugs".

But it's the appearance of Pfizer boss Ian Read before MPs that interests most analysts. The Mail's Quentin Letts describes him as "American business baloney made flesh, all plastic jargon and resolute jaw with a hilarious lack of that most important of senses: the self-absurd". However, the writer notes: "For all his bombast, Mr Read was nervous. His hands were shaking so much that he lifted a plastic water bottle to his lips with both hands."

Despite that, the Telegraph's Michael Deacon says: "The MPs got little out of him: if the takeover succeeded, jobs would be lost, but Mr Read professed not to know how many. Demands for clarity were met with a gaze of puzzled innocence."

Matthew Engel, in the Financial Times, writes: "He began by trying to blather the MPs into submission... In the end, he was like a batsman so busy protecting his wicket that he could not score a run." He says: "If Pfizer had a single reason why the committee, the government, the workforce of both companies or the world's ailing should actually like the proposed deal, rather than just tolerating it, I never grasped it. Nor did the committee."

The Independent agrees that Mr Read "failed to dispel the impression that tax, and tax alone, brought him here", while the Guardian sees a "prescription for failure" and urges Business Secretary Vince Cable - who told the MPs he took the threat to jobs and science "extremely seriously" - to intervene.

The Mirror agrees, saying Mr Cable should "stop wringing his hands and complaining" and instead save a "great British company from the clutches of an American asset-stripper". However, the Times says it's not just science at stake but "a vital business principle", adding: "The right people to decide on mergers and acquisitions are the shareholders."

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Electoral gloom

From left: Ed Miliband, David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage Image copyright Various

With a little over a week to go before voters head to the polls in the local and European elections, party leaders might be best advised not to read Wednesday's headlines.

"Miliband is 'bad for business'," reads page two of the Daily Express, quoting former Trade Minister Lord Digby Jones's comments about Labour leader Ed's policies. The same page in the Mail tells readers: "Ed Miliband's ratings are worse than those of [former Labour PM] Gordon Brown and he has 'nothing to say' on key issues, senior Labour MPs are warning." Meanwhile, Independent cartoonist Dave Brown sees Mr Miliband as "down in the mouth", sketching the Labour leader's teeth in the form of an opinion poll bar chart on a downward slide.

David Cameron doesn't fare much better, with the Sun's headline quoting him admitting "we've flopped on migrants" by failing to hit targets to reduce immigration. Meanwhile, historian Dominic Sandbrook tells the PM in the Mail that: "Unless you find the common touch, and choose your friends more wisely, a lead in the polls isn't enough." He's referring to a perceived failure to appeal to working class voters and Mr Cameron's links to people - like singer Gary Barlow - who have been publicly criticised for tax avoidance.

UKIP's Nigel Farage might make a "cheeky" offer to share power with the Conservatives in the Sun but the front page of the Times raises fresh questions about his party's funding. The Financial Times quotes the leader of France's National Front (FN) - dismissed by Mr Farage for "anti-semitic and general prejudice" - saying that she has "good contacts with him". On the front page of the Guardian, one of his party's prominent British Asian supporters is reported saying she's leaving the party on the grounds it has descended into a terrifying "form of racist populism".

For the Lib Dem leader, there is little encouragement in the parliamentary sketches. The Times's Ann Treneman writes: "Nick Clegg is not paranoid: they really are out to get him... There are rumours that he and the prime minister are fighting over the punishment for knife crime. Well, yesterday, the knives were everywhere." Despite this, the Guardian's John Crace reckons the deputy PM was "killed with kindness" in the Commons: "Even MPs draw a line between a robust bloodsport and a gratuitous assault on a defenceless creature... His party no longer think he will be their leader in a year's time and neither does he."

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Road to Brazil

Tents at the Copa do Povo 'flash favela' in eastern Sao Paulo, Brazil. Image copyright AFP

With Roy Hodgson's World Cup squad settled, attention turns to what England fans can expect to find should they ignore Home Office reckoning, reported on the Times's front page, that the national team face an early exit and travel to Brazil anyway.

They'd be advised to steer clear of trouble, if a photograph of the "Rio-bocop" displayed in the Mirror is anything to go by. Protected by Kevlar body armour and helmets, the elite military police will be armed with six-inch combat knives, a pistol, grenades and laser-sighted carbine, the paper says. Meanwhile, the Mirror also says that senior officers are warning fans not to scream if mugged because they could end up being killed by their attackers.

The Financial Times focuses on the situation for Brazilians, saying a left-wing group is building "flash favelas" - the local term for slums - from bamboo and plastic sheeting, close to stadiums. Protesters claim one camp in Sao Paolo is currently home to 4,000 people. They aim to force the government to build homes for those left destitute as the World Cup effect doubles rents, the paper says.

And the Guardian announces a Brazilian signing to its ranks of sports reporters - one of the country's all-time greatest players, Zico. The man who made 71 appearances for his country, scoring 48 goals, kicks off by complaining that fans hardly get to see the modern Brazilian team, with most players based abroad and many of the national team's games also played on the road.

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Making people click

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