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Right to Be Forgotten takedowns limited to European searchers … for now

October 10, 2019

European Court determines that EU law does not provide for (but does not prohibit) global search result delisting

The European Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) has ruled that Google does not have to apply the right to be forgotten globally. The proceeding stemmed from an imposition by the French data protection authority (CNIL) of a EUR 100,000 fine against Google for not deindexing search results across all its search properties. Google had implemented geoblocking that prevented access to certain search results within the European Union, but CNIL found this to be insufficient.

The court proceeding, on the basis of the former Data Protection Directive, found:

64      It follows that, currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject, as the case may be, following an injunction from a supervisory or judicial authority of a Member State, to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine.

Importantly, the court also noted that while EU law does not require orders with global effect, it does not prohibit them. Member states are free to adopt national laws that require global censorship.

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