Published: Thu, September 26, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

European Union court: Right to be forgotten applies only in EU

European Union court: Right to be forgotten applies only in EU

The ruling curtails a right to be forgotten established by the same court in 2014, which allows European Union citizens to request that links containing personal information about them be removed from search results.

The right, which allows people to demand Google remove or delist links to information about themselves not in the public interest, was introduced in 2014 to protect people's privacy.

On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice sided with Google.

The right to be forgotten came into force in 2014, after Spanish national Mario Costeja González sought to remove out-of-date links relating to unsettled debts that had since been settled.

Back in 2015, France's privacy regulator CNIL ordered Google to globally remove search result listings to any page which contained damaging or false information about a person.

The European Court of Justice's (ECJ) ruling on Tuesday prevented the 28-member EU from acquiring unprecedented powers to regulate the internet beyond its borders. There is also a notably odd addendum to the ruling implying search engines must put measures in place to prevent, or discourage, individuals from accessing search results outside of the EU.

"Decisions such as the Google privacy case that apply extraterritorial jurisdiction can result in negative and unintended consequences", he says.

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The right to be forgotten gives individuals, right to request that personal information be removed from the Internet.

The ruling means Google only has to scrub search results from its European service and not globally, when requested.

The ruling will be regarded as a major blow by those who believe European Union laws could form a heavyweight alternative to the largely American underpinnings of internet law today. Google refused and was subsequently served a massive fine by CNIL in 2016.

In response to Tuesday's ruling, the French privacy agency said it might still request a global delisting of some search results "if it is justified in some cases to guarantee the rights of the individuals concerned".

"This is good news for Google and other operators of online services, at least in that they will need to worry less about having potentially conflicting legal obligations in different jurisdictions when complying with "right to be forgotten" requests relating to their online services", Ron Moscona, a partner at the global law firm Dorsey & Whitney's London office, said in an email.

"This might obviously be frustrating for people who will see that people from outside Europe will still be able to find the de-listed search results when performing the same search on Google in New York, Shanghai or any other place in the world", he added.

The cases can not be appealed and national courts across the European Union must abide by the decisions. "It is not right that one country's data protection authorities can impose their interpretation on Internet users around the world".

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