Google wins European Union case to limit the right to be forgotten

Google wins landmark right to be forgotten case

Google has fended off a landmark legal challenge from the French data protection authority after the EU's top court ruled that the search engine giant does not have to apply "right to be forgotten" rules globally.

The suit was brought against Google by France's privacy regulator CNIL, which alleged that Google was not abiding by right-to-be-forgotten laws after it only blocked search results about an individual in Europe and not elsewhere.

The case is being viewed by policymakers and companies as a test of whether or not European Union laws can be extended beyond the continent's own territory.

Google has since removed many millions of URLs from search results based on privacy requests.

It continued: "The court adds that the right to the protection of personal data is not an absolute right, but must be considered in relation to its function in society and be balanced against other fundamental rights, in accordance with the principle of proportionality".

The ECJ court case arose after France's privacy watchdog CNIL in 2016 fined Google €100,000 for refusing to to delist sensitive information from internet search results globally upon request in what is called the "right to be forgotten".


As you may recall, the "right to be forgotten" drama dates back to 2010, when a Spanish citizen complained that the publication of details of his home prepossession in Google search results violated his privacy rights.

The European Court of Justice ruled that the EU's "right to be forgotten" rule can not be enforced outside of Europe, a key victory for Google.

Europe might forget, but the world remembers.

In 2014, judges from the same court granted the right for individuals, under certain conditions, to have references to them removed from search engine results.

"The Court is right to state that the balance between privacy and free speech should be taken into account when deciding if websites should be de-listed - and also to recognise that this balance may vary around the world". The company has continued to review all takedown requests, cumulatively honoring 45% of requests to delist results, or about 846,000 links, through September 7 of this year.

The European Court of Justice said 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.

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