On September 24, 2019, the world’s foremost Internet search engine, Google, won its ‘right to be forgotten’ case against France at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which ruled that Google does not have to apply the European Union law which guarantees the right to be forgotten globally but only in European Union (EU) member States.
The court ruled that: “… 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 seOn September 24, 2019, the world’s foremost Internet search engine, Google, won its ‘right to be forgotten’ case against France at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which ruled that Google does not have to apply the European Union law, which guarantees the right to be forgotten, globally but only within European Union (EU) member States. arch engine,” adding “… EU law requires a search engine operator to carry out such a de-referencing on the versions of its search engine corresponding to all the (EU) member states.”
In 2014, La Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés, (CNIL) the French National Commission for Data Protection and Liberties, made a decision which ordered Google to remove 21 links from the results of an internet search on the name of a French citizen who claimed a “right to be forgotten”.
Google initially removed the links from its French search site (www.google.fr) and other European search sites but CNIL demanded that it go further by removing it from other domains. Google thereafter blocked the links from results returned to European users, even when using Google’s non-European sites, including www.google.com.
However, Google’s appealed to France’s highest court, the Council of State (Conseil d’État) against the decision and 18 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world, including Media Rights Agenda (MRA) filed a motion to join Google. The 18 International NGOs filed a joint voluntary intervention, through separate a submission, pursuant to the provisions of Article R. 632-1 of the French Code of Administrative Justice.
Google’s appeal was aimed at supporting its application for the annulment of decision no. 2016-054 of March 10, 2016 in which the CNIL ruled that the delisting process implemented by Google in order to comply with the principles arising from the European Court of Justice’s ruling in Google Spain SL et Google Inc. c. AEPD and Mario Costeja González on May 13, 2014 was insufficient.
On July 19, 2017 the Council of State referred the matter to the European Union Court.
The right to be forgotten also known as the “right to erasure”, the rule gives individuals the power to demand data about them be deleted and in the case of search engines, the right to request links to pages containing personal information about them be removed.
The judgment by the Court can be downloaded here