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Google can limit right to be forgotten, the EU advisor to the top court

LUXEMBOURG (Reuters) – Google and other search engines can restrict the “right to be forgotten” to the European Union, an adviser to the bloc’s top court said on Thursday, in a case that has important implications for the territorial scope of application of EU law.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Google is pictured during the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 25, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Under the legislation of the European Union, individuals can request that a search engine remove certain links from its search results. If the request is approved, the name of the person no longer has the consequence that this content appears in the search results.

The approval is based on a balance between a person’s right to privacy and the public’s right to know.

AMERICAN Google had appealed a 100,000-euro 115,000) fine imposed by the French data protection authority CNIL in March 2016, for the not list information across national borders. The case was eventually referred to the European Court of Justice.

The judges of the European Court of Justice usually follow the advice of the attorney-general, although they are not bound to do. They usually have the line within two to four months.

On Thursday, the opinion of Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said searches from outside the EU should not be influenced by the so-called “de-referencing” of information at the request of private individuals.

“The fundamental right to be forgotten must be balanced against other fundamental rights such as the right to protection of personal data and privacy, as well as the legitimate public interest of access to the requested information,” Szpunar said.

He said, however, that once the right to be forgotten was established within the EU, a search engine that the operator should make every effort to remove items, including the use of geo-blocking in the case that the IP address of a device that is connected to the internet is deemed to be within the EU.

In a second dispute between a group of individuals, and of the CNIL, Szpunar said that the prohibition on the processing of certain types of data should also apply to the operators of search engines.

They should accede, as a matter of course, to the referring request, said Szpunar. Where issues of freedom of expression come into conflict with the respect for the privacy, the search engine must also weigh the public interest in his decision, he said.

Google has no immediate comment, while the CNIL declined to comment.

Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Douglas Busvine, additional reporting by Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris; editing by Elaine Hardcastle

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