Right to be forgotten: EU court limits the right to de-referencing

EU countries have different approaches to RTBF and it is possible for a Member State DPA or court to carry out the balancing exercise. By Daisy Jones of Osborne Clarke LLP.

On 24 September 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) issued their judgment in Google LLC v Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertés (CNIL) Case C- 507/17 on the territorial scope of the right to be forgotten for search engine operators.

This case has been widely reported as limiting the scope of the right to be forgotten to apply on a global basis but, as this article discusses, in fact the court allowed for some discretion for regulators in the future.

Background to the case

The concept of the right to be forgotten has been the subject of a number of different cases, including Google Spain SL and Google Inc v Agencia Espanola de Proteccion de Datos (AEPD) and the Mario Costeja Gonzalez Case C- 131/12 (known as the Google Spain case). This case established the existence and scope of the right of individuals to request that search engine results are removed (or “de-referenced”) where they affect an individual’s right to privacy. An individual’s right to de-reference applies where the information contained in the website is “inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive” and means that the operator removes links to web pages from the list displayed on the search engine following a search conducted on that individual’s name.

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