Google Not Bound To Apply 'Right To Be Forgotten' Globally, Holds European Court of Justice [Read Judgment]

Google Not Bound To Apply

The European Court of Justice has ruled that Google is not bound to apply the 'Right to be Forgotten' globally, but only in the member states of the European Union.

The case reached the Court after the French Data Protection Authority, France (CNIL) imposed a Penalty of EUR 100 000 on Google because of its refusal, when granting a de-referencing request, to apply it to all its search engine's domain name extensions.

Right To Be Forgotten

Under European Law, an individual has a right to demand erasure of data concerning him from the search engines.

'Right to erasure ("right to be forgotten")', is worded as follows: The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay where one of the following grounds applies:(a) the personal data are no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which they were collected or otherwise processed;(b) the data subject withdraws consent on which the processing is based according to point (a) of Article 6(1), or point (a) of Article 9(2), and where there is no other legal ground for the processing;(c) the data subject objects to the processing pursuant to Article 21(1) and there are no overriding legitimate grounds for the processing, or the data subject objects to the processing pursuant to Article 21(2);(d) the personal data have been unlawfully processed;(e) the personal data have to be erased for compliance with a legal obligation in Union or Member State law to which the controller is subject;(f) the personal data have been collected in relation to the offer of information society services.

The question considered by the Court was whether the search engine operator is required, when granting a request for de-referencing, to deploy the de-referencing to all of the domain names used by its search engine so that the links at issue no longer appear, irrespective of the place from where the search initiated on the basis of the requester's name is conducted, and even if it is conducted from a place outside the territorial scope of Directive. Google contended that this right does not necessarily require that the links at issue are to be removed, without geographical limitation, from all its search engine's domain names.

Answering this issue in favour of Google, the court held that search engine operator cannot be required, under the relevant Articles, to carry out a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine. It held as follows:

"Where a search engine operator grants a request for de-referencing pursuant to those provisions, that operator is not required to carry out that de-referencing on all versions of its search engine, but on the versions of that search engine corresponding to all the Member States, using, where necessary, measures which, while meeting the legal requirements, effectively prevent or, at the very least, seriously discourage an internet user conducting a search from one of the Member States on the basis of a data subject's name from gaining access, via the list of results displayed following that search, to the links which are the subject of that request."

Click here to Read/Download Judgment