Google does not have to remove links to sensitive personal data globally, the ECJ has ruled
Google is not required to apply an European Union “right to be forgotten” to its search engine domains outside Europe, the EU’s top court has ruled in a landmark decision.
The judgment by the European Court of Justice handed victory to Google in the case, seen as crucial in determining whether EU online regulation should apply beyond Europe’s borders or not.
The US internet giant had argued that the removal of search results required under EU law should not extend to its google.com domain or its other non-EU sites.
“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 said.
“However, EU law requires a search engine operator to carryout such a de-referencing on the versions of its search engine corresponding to all the (EU) member states,” it added.
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”.
Google took its fight to the French Council of State which subsequently sought advice from the ECJ.
The Council also asked for advice after CNIL decided not to order Google to remove links from internet search results based on the names of four individuals.
These included a satirical photo montage of a female politician, an article referring to someone as a public relations officer of the Church of Scientology, the placing under investigation of a male politician and the conviction of someone for sexual assaults against minors.
After today’s ruling, Google said in a statement: “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. It’s good to see that the Court agreed with our arguments.”