Court Rules “Right to be Forgotten” Does Not Extend Beyond EU Borders
In 2014, Google found itself in a bit of awkward position when the company was sued by a man wanting information about him removed when his name is searched. This was a first-of-its-kind case brought against the search giant.
The name of the man in question is Mario Costeja González and his revolves around wanting the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home that dated as far back as 1998 on the website of a mass-circulation newspaper in Catalonia.
Google was forced by Europe’s highest court to remove links from two websites from showing search results connecting Mr- Gonzalez to the results they produce when his name is searched.
However, a new ruling concerning the 2014 “right to be forgotten” case said Google isn’t obligated to remove results that aren’t within the 28 country-zone of the EU but it must discourage users from looking for the same information through versions of the pages outside the European Union.
This ruling came after Google found itself at odds with the French privacy regulator CNIL, which in 2015 called for the search titan to globally remove links to pages containing damaging or false information about another person.
In a statement on the updated decision, the court said: “The balance between the 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 right to be forgotten isn’t necessarily an absolute right and the same EU ruling can’t be applied on pages, not under the EU jurisdiction,” the court argued.
The geo-blocking feature Google introduced in 2016 was also caught in the middle of this intense debate between the company and the French privacy firm who said despite stopping European users from being able to see delisted links, the company refused to take it a step further by not censoring search results for people in other parts of the world.
But Google said it has fulfilled its obligations levied by the “right to be forgotten” ruling and sees no reason to take it beyond the threshold of sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy.
The move was hugely praised by privacy advocates who hailed it as a victory for global freedom of expression since the right to have data removed by Google could be abused by dictators looking to put a shackle on freedom of citizens or even hide potential human right abuses.