Google Wins Privacy Battle Over ‘Right to be forgotten’

The highest court in the European Union has ruled that Google is not required to apply the EU’s “right to be forgotten” laws to its search engines globally.

The European Court of Justice (ECoJ) ruled yesterday that there “is no obligation under EU law for a search engine operator” to extend beyond the EU member states the court’s 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online.

However, the court did say that search engine operators must implement measures to discourage internet users from going outside the EU to find that information.

The case highlights the need to balance data privacy and protection concerns against the public’s right to know. It also raises questions about how to enforce differing jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.

The ECoJ stated in its ruling:

Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject… to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine, …However, EU law requires a search engine operator to carry out such a de-referencing on the versions of its search engine corresponding to all the member states,

The case was brought after Google was fined €100,000 ($109,790) by French privacy watchdog, CNIL, in 2016 for refusing to de-list sensitive information from internet search results globally upon request in what has been dubbed the “right to be forgotten”.

Google took its fight to the French Council of State, which subsequently sought advice from the European court.

Dexter Thillien, senior industry analyst at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC via email:

Google will be happy with the decision, and I think the broader question is who has jurisdiction when it comes to tech, which is global in its nature, …As we’re unlikely to see global rules, that tension between global tech and national rules will continue, and this means that some jurisdictions will still try to implement rules which will have a global impact,

Tuesday’s ruling comes amid increasing scrutiny of the tech giant from European regulators, with the EU’s antitrust authority cracking down on the company in recent years.

Source: CNBC, France24

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