ECJ rules “right to be forgotten” only applies within EU

Under EU law, individuals have the “right to be forgotten”. This means that when a request is made to take down links in search results, companies like Google have to remove these links so they can no longer be accessed. However, in a case brought to the European Court of Justice, in the future, these cases could be limited to the EU only.

The case was brought to the court following a fine of €100,000 issued to Google, after failing to take down global links under the right to be forgotten. Google disputed the fine, and after this, the French Council of State, the Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL), referred the it to the ECJ. The Advocate General for the case, Maciej Szpunar, made the decision that the fine would be voided.

The CNIL argued that when requests are made to Google, the removal of search results should apply to all extensions of the site, which means it would need to be removed across all countries, including those outside of the EU. However, Google disputed the claims, saying that it is only legally required to remove results on European domains.

In the future, similar cases would only apply to search results within the EU. In a statement, Szpunar said that the courts would “not in favour of giving the provisions of EU law such a broad interpretation that they would have effects beyond the borders of the 28 Member States.” He went on to note the requests made from outside the EU would “not be affected by the dereferencing of the search results”.

In a statement, Google pointed out that freedom of information is an important issue worldwide. The statement says: “Public access to information, and the right to privacy, are important to people all around the world, as demonstrated by the number of global human rights, media and other organisations that have made their views known in this case. We’ve worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99% effectiveness.”

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