Luxembourg: Google wins landmark case limiting 'right to forget' in Europe

LUXEMBOURG: Google does not need to apply Europe's "Right to Forget" law globally, the continent's supreme court ruled Tuesday in a landmark case that raised privacy rights against freedom of speech.

The victory for American technological titanium means that while it must remove links to sensitive personal data from internet search results in Europe, it does not need to remove it from searches elsewhere in the world.

The case has been seen as a milestone, in an era of no-boundaries internet, on whether people can demand a general removal of information about themselves from investigations without stifling freedom of speech and legitimate public interest.

It was also seen by policymakers and businesses around the world as a test of whether the European Union can extend its laws beyond its borders.

"At present, there is no requirement under EU law for a search engine officer who requests a data subject to depart … to make such an appeal in all versions of his search engine" the European Court of Justice The union said in its decision.

Google welcomed the ruling, saying: "It is good to see that the court has agreed with our arguments."

The most popular internet search engine has in the past warned of the dangers of being overrun by Europe. In a blog post two years ago, he said that there must be a balance between sensitive personal data and the public interest and no country should be able to impose rules on another's citizens.

The right to be forgotten was upheld by the same European Court of Justice in 2014, when it ruled that people like Google could remove inadequate or irrelevant information from the web results that appear in searches for their names.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, has since received 845,501 links removal requests and removed 45% of the 3.3 million links requested to be removed.


UK rights group Article 19, which campaigns for freedom of speech and information, welcomed Tuesday's ruling, which also said Google had some freedom to decide whether to remove links due to a balance between privacy rights. and the public interest.

"Courts or data regulators in the United Kingdom, France or Germany should not be able to determine the search results that internet users see in America, India or Argentina," he said.

"The court is right to state that the balance between privacy and freedom of speech should be taken into account when deciding whether websites should be eliminated – and also recognizing that this balance can vary around the world."

However, Patrick Van Eecke, global president of data protection practice at the DLA Piper law firm, said he would limit the impact of a successful right to have his application forgotten, as it would be delimited by EU-wide investigations.

"This could obviously be frustrating for people to see that people from outside Europe will still be able to find the listed search results when they do the same Google search in New York, Shanghai or anywhere in the world." he added.

The case came to light in 2016 after France's privacy watchdog CNIL fined Google 100,000 euros ($ 109,790) for refusing to remove a list of sensitive information from worldwide search results on request.

Google took the fight to the French Council of State, which then sought the advice of the European Court of Justice.

The Council requested separate advice after CNIL decided not to order Google to remove links from four-person internet search results.

These include a satirical photomontage of a female politician, an article referring to someone in charge of the Church of Scientology public relations, investigating a male politician and convicting someone of sexual assault on a minor.

CNIL said it would comply with Tuesday's ruling.