EU Top Court: Europe’s “Right to be Forgotten” Does Not Apply Globally

BY Heather Greenfield
September 24, 2019

Brussels, BELGIUM — Today, the EU Court of Justice ruled that removed or delisted web links (or URLs) from search engines should not apply worldwide. Europe’s highest court was asked to provide direction on how broadly search engines should remove domain names or delist URLs in response to requests from EU citizens.

The ongoing proceeding 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 Court’s decision recognizes search engines’ efforts 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 nearly 1.3 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 decision is binding and follow the recommendations of Advocate General Spuznar

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

“Today’s ruling honors EU residents’ ‘right to be forgotten’ without compromising the constitutional rights of citizens outside of the EU. We are pleased to see that the decision recognizes industry’s efforts to achieve this delicate balance.”

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

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