A lot has been going on around with Google lately, most of which aren’t really in Google’s favour. However, this time the US tech mammoth won a landmark case, which now says that the company need not succumb to the ‘Right to be forgotten’ law globally.
In 2015, France’s privacy overseer told Google to de-list sensitive data from internet search results globally upon request. The case arose in 2016 after CNIL fined Google 100,000 euros ($109,790) for refusing to de-list sensitive information from search results. However recently, Europe’s top court confirmed that the firm does not have to take sensitive information off global search. The continent’s highest court has ruled that Google does not have to apply Europe’s landmark “right to be forgotten” law globally .
The court said the right to be forgotten was not an absolute right. “The balance between right to privacy and protection of personal data, on the one hand, and the freedom of information of internet users, on the other, is likely to vary significantly around the world,” the court said in its decision.
Here’s where a set of contradictory statements arise from the ECJ with respect to two sittings. In 2014, the right to be forgotten was established by the European court of justice, when it said Google must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its results when a member of the public requests it. Despite its 2014 statement (which was devalued just recently), in 2019 it further added that a search engine operator must put measures in place to discourage internet users from going outside the European Union to search for some piece of data.
Google claims to have received 845,501 “right to be forgotten” requests since the past five years, resulting in the removal of 45% of the 3.3m links referred to in the requests. Its true that the content itself remains online, but it cannot be found through online searching of an individual’s name or whereabouts.
In order to fight situations like these, in 2016, Google introduced a “geo-blocking feature” that stopped European users from being able to see “delisted” links. However, Google didn’t censor search results for people in other parts of the world, challenging a €100,000 (£88,376) fine CNIL tried to impose.
Google welcomed the decision, saying: “It’s good to see that the court agreed with our arguments.”
Following its victory, Google’s senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, 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.”