Exactly how forgotten is one entitled to be under the landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the “Right-to-be-Forgotten”? That is the question that might land Google back before ECJ.

In May 2014, the ECJ ordered Google to remove links to content that private citizens claimed were in violation of their privacy rights – a decision that came to be known as the “Right-to-be-Forgotten” (Google v Gonzalez, [2014] CJEU C-131/12; for prior coverage in E-TIPS® Newsletter, click here). One year later, Google reports that it has received over a quarter million takedown requests, with about 500 new requests daily. But exactly how is one ‘forgotten’ by Google? To date, Google has processed takedown requests by removing links to domains from its European-based search sites, such as google.fr, google.co.uk, and google.de. However, Google has not delisted links from its global engine google.com.

Google believes this approach is in compliance with the ruling. “We've been working hard to strike the right balance in implementing the European Court's ruling, co-operating closely with data protection authorities [...] The ruling focused on services directed to European users, and that's the approach we are taking in complying with it" states Al Verney, spokesperson for Google.

France’s data protection watchdog, Commission nationale de l'informatique et des libertés [CNIL], insists that Google must go further and apply the delinking worldwide. CNIL insists that the right-to-be-forgotten must involve all the extensions offered by Google. “For delisting to be effective, it must be world-wide,” said Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin, the head of the CNIL. “It is a question of principle. Google must respect the rights of European citizens.” A CNIL order has given Google 15 days to comply or face penalties, including a fine of up to 300,000 euros.

The CNIL’s demand came just days after release of the BC Court of Appeal’s decision in Equustek v Google, 2015 BCCA 265, covered in more detail in this issue of E-TIPs, here.

Summary by: Jennifer R Davidson


15 06 17

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