Google Wins in "Right to be Forgotten" Court Case Against France

Europe's top court has said Google does not need to implement tougher rules on personal data.
Chris Young

Google has won its court battle against France's demands for tougher rules around the "right to be forgotten."

Europe's top court has said the search giant does not have to remove links to sensitive personal data throughout the world.

The ruling marks a new chapter in France's and Europe's ongoing fight against big tech.


Europe against big tech

France's government has been one of the most vocal critics of the increasingly unchecked power of big tech. Last year, the French government announced government and military offices would no longer use Google, and had started using privacy-focused search engine Qwant.

The country has been testing the strength of Europe's laws by demanding stronger regulation of privacy via the "right to be forgotten."

“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... to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine,” the European Court of Justice (CJEU) said in a press release.

“However, 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,” it added.

History of a privacy case

The case first started when France’s privacy watchdog CNIL fined Google 100,000 euros in 2016. It was for refusing to remove private and sensitive information from Google search results worldwide after requests were made based on the "right to be forgotten."

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As Reuters reports, the requests included the removal of an article describing an individual as a PR officer for the Church of Scientology, a satirical photomontage of a female politician, an investigation of a male politician, and the conviction of an individual for sexual assaults against minors.

“Since 2014, we’ve worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe, and to strike a sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy. It’s good to see that the Court agreed with our arguments ...,” Google said in a statement after the ruling.

As the BBC points out, the court ruling means that Google only needs to remove links from its search results carried out within Europe after receiving an appropriate request. These results will still appear in other parts of the globe, even if removed in Europe.

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