Internet Law

Europe's top court rules 'right to be forgotten' doesn't apply to internet search results worldwide

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The European Union’s top court ruled Tuesday that Google and other search engines are not obligated to delete links to websites and databases worldwide under a “right to be forgotten” privacy rule.

The European Court of Justice said the rule applied only within the 28 nations that are part of the European Union, report the New York Times, the Recorder, Politico, the Neiman Lab and Ars Technica.

In a second case, the court said the right to free expression and information must be weighed before deleting links related to certain categories of personal data.

“The right to the protection of personal data is not an absolute right,” the court said.

The right to be forgotten was established by a 2014 European Court of Justice decision in the case of a lawyer who wanted Google to delete links to a legal announcement about an auction of his property.

The court ruled in the lawyer’s case that a 1995 data protection law endorses a right to be forgotten. Links to information should be removed when information is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive in the light of the purposes of the processing” and in “light of the time that has elapsed,” the court said in the 2014 decision.

In the new case, the court ruled in a dispute between Google and the French data protection watchdog known as CNIL.

Peter Fleischer, Google’s senior privacy counsel, applauded the ruling in a statement.

“Since 2014, we’ve worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe, and to strike a sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information, and privacy. It’s good to see that the court agreed with our arguments, and we’re grateful to the independent human rights organization, media associations and many others around the world who also presented their views to the court,” he said.

Related article:

ABA Journal: “Erasing the News: Should some stories be forgotten?”

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