Advocate General Takes Balanced Approach in EU Web Delisting Case

BY Heather Greenfield
January 10, 2019

Brussels — Today, the EU Court of Justice published a non-binding opinion from Advocate General Maciej Szpunar in which he argues that removed access to delisted web links (or URLs) from search engines should not apply worldwide, but instead be limited to searches made in the EU.

The ongoing proceedings follows a referral from the French administrative High Court (‘Conseil d’Etat’) to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) regarding a decision of the French data protection authority (CNIL).  

The Advocate General’s opinion recognizes search engines’ efforts in trying to honor EU residents’ rights to be delisted without compromising constitutional guarantees from countries outside the EU, including freedom of information.

Following a 2014 CJEU decision, search engines have worked with European data protection authorities to ensure that individuals in the EU can effectively exercise their right to be “delisted” from their service. To date, search engines such as Google have removed access to over 1 million URLs from search domains across Europe. In addition, they also block access to delisted URLs via other country search domains, when accessed from the country of the person who requested the delisting. In other words, someone in France using the “.com”, “.de” or “.jp” version of a search engine will not be able to access a URL that was delisted at the request of a French resident.

Today’s opinion is not binding but the Court of Justice often follows such opinions.

The following can be attributed to CCIA President and CEO Ed Black:

“The Advocate General’s opinion respects access to information around the world and we hope the European Court of Justice follows the balance and consideration given to global internet users. Those who have fought for access to information for decades have grave concerns about any one person or government having the ability to delete information – no matter how tempting that prospect may be in any one example.”

The following can be attributed to CCIA Senior Manager Alexandre Roure:

“We welcome Advocate General Maciej Szpunar’s opinion which balances EU residents’ right to be delisted while respecting the constitutional rights of citizens outside of the EU. Today’s opinion recognizes industry’s efforts to achieve this balance and we hope the final Court ruling will take the same pragmatic and balanced approach.”

For media inquiries, please contact: Heather Greenfield hgreenfield@ccianet.org

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