Google wins personal data case in EU
Google won a landmark “right to be forgotten” case against France, which had demanded tougher personal data rules for the company.
Foo Yun Chee had the news for Reuters:
Google (GOOGL.O) won its fight against tougher “right to be forgotten” rules after Europe’s top court said on Tuesday it does not have to remove links to sensitive personal data worldwide, rejecting a French demand.
The case is seen as a test of whether Europe can extend its laws beyond its borders and whether individuals can demand the removal of personal data from internet search results without stifling free speech and legitimate public interest.
“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,” the European Court of Justice (CJEU) said.
The BBC’s Leo Kelion reported:
The EU’s top court has ruled that Google does not have to apply the right to be forgotten globally.
It means the firm only needs to remove links from its search results in Europe – and not elsewhere – after receiving an appropriate request.
The ruling stems from a dispute between Google and a French privacy regulator.
In 2015, CNIL ordered the firm to globally remove search result listings to pages containing damaging or false information about a person.
The following year, Google introduced a geoblocking feature that prevents European users from being able to see delisted links.
But it resisted censoring search results for people in other parts of the world. And the firm challenged a 100,000 ($109,901; £88,376) euro fine that CNIL had tried to impose.
Google had argued that the obligation could be abused by authoritarian governments trying to cover up human rights abuses were it to be applied outside of Europe.
“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,” the firm said in a statement following the ECJ ruling.
“It’s good to see that the court agreed with our arguments.”
CNBC’s Silvia Amaro and Chloe Taylor noted:
In 2016, France’s privacy watchdog CNIL fined Google 100,000 euros (109,889) for refusing to remove sensitive information from search results on the internet upon request under “right to be forgotten.”
During a hearing at the Luxembourg-based institution last year, lawyers defending Google argued that applying the right to be forgotten worldwide could restrict people’s access to information in certain countries, Politico reported.
At the same time, Tuesday’s decision delivers a setback to the European Union and its prospects of extending its own privacy standards globally.
“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,” Dexter Thillien, senior industry analyst at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC via email.
“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,” he added.
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.