Google may limit ‘right to be forgotten’ in EU, says top court advisor

FRANKFURT/PARIS (Reuters) – Google can restrict the “right to be forgotten” to search through the internet in the European Union, an adviser to the bloc’s top court said on Thursday, backing an appeal by the AMERICAN search giant against a French clean.

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

European Court of Justice, judges usually follow the advice of the attorney general, usually within two to four months, but they are not obliged to do that.

Maciej Szpunar’s opinion was welcomed by Google, which locked horns with the French privacy watchdog after a penalty in 2016 for not list sensitive information outside the borders of the EU.

“We have worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for the Europeans, including the use of geolocation to ensure that 99 percent effectiveness,” Peter Fleischer, Google’s senior privacy counsel, said.

Europeans got the right to ask search engines list, some data about them in an important ruling of five years ago. If approved, a decision based on a balance between a person’s right to privacy and the public’s right to know, the content is not displayed in the search results.

Szpunar said searches from outside the EU should not be affected by this “de-referencing” of information.

“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,” he said.

Once the right to be forgotten was established within the EU, a search engine that the user needs to do all it can to delete the 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, Szpunar added.


Google, which estimates that it has removed 2.9 million left under the right to be forgotten, had appealed a 100,000-euro 115,000) fine from the French data protection authority CNIL in March 2016, for the not list information about the national boundaries, sending the case to the European Court of Justice.

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.

This case involves the CNIL’s refusal to the removal of links found in the search results with individual names.

These include a satirical photomontage of a female politician; an article about one interested party as a public relations officer of the Church of Scientology; the placing of an investigation of a male politician; and the belief of the other party for sexual violence against minors.

In its own transparency report on the European search for removals, Google says that about nine out of 10 requests come in from private individuals.

In cases where public figures can vary, for example, Google rejected a request to remove a link to a German newspaper, in the article criticism of the work of an artist.

In another, rejected the largest part of a lot of requests to remove links about a senior manager at a large Uk company that had a long prison sentence for fraud.

Szpunar views were welcomed by Article 19, a UK-based rights group that focuses on freedom of expression:

“European data regulators should not be able to determine in the search results to internet users all over the world to see,” Article 19 Executive Director Thomas Hughes said, adding that he hoped that the court judges would be back Szpunar.

Written by Douglas Busvine, additional reporting by Philip Blenkinsop and Peter Maushagen in Brussels; editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Alexander Smith

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