Google Makes Significant Win In EU’s Top Court Over Privacy Rights

An adviser to the EU’s top court has said that outside of the European Union, there is no need for Google to guarantee the “right to be forgotten” to users.

In relation to the debate surrounding the degree to which tech companies such as Google need to apply the strict privacy laws of Europe on a mandatory basis to their operations in other parts of the world, this written opinion by an advocate general in the European Court of Justice is an important statement.

According to an EU law established in 2014, the “right to be forgotten” is defined as a clause that mandates search engines to delete the personal information provided by its users if retaining such information was judged to be irrelevant or excessive.

Google, for example, can be asked by a user to delete his or her links such as those which relate to their personal contact information. Such requests from users for deletion of information or when an organization itself decides to remove such information, the company has to take into consideration other elements and influencers such as the role of the individual in public life. Almost 3 million requests to “delist” web addresses from users across Europe have been received by Google since 2014.

He is “not in favor of giving the provisions of EU law such a broad interpretation that they would have effects beyond the borders of the 28 Member States,” said Advocate General Maciej Szpunar in a written opinion on Thursday.

“The opinion contains a clear recommendation that the right to remove search results from Google should not have global effect,” said Richard Cumbley, the partner and global head of technology at London-based law firm Linklaters. “There are a number of good reasons for this, including the risk other states would also try and suppress search results on a global basis.”

The debate over whether the strict data regulations in Europe are needed to be followed by the US tech company outside of Europe was being fought out in a court between Google has and France’s data regulator called CNIL (Commission nationale de l’informatique et des libertes). The legal suit had reached the highest court in Europe following the CNIL imposing a fine of 100,000 euros ($115,000) on Google in 2016 over charges of not removing search links from all of the versions of its site.

It would mean a big victory for Google, if the opinion of the advocate general is also endorsed by the top European court as well as for many free speech advocates who have been professing that the global implementation of the “right to be forgotten” could ultimately result in censorship of free speech in some countries.

“The Court must limit the scope of the ‘right to be forgotten’ in order to protect global freedom of expression and prevent Europe from setting a precedent for censorship that could be exploited by other countries,” said U.K.-based free speech organization Article 19 in a statement while reacting to  the advocate general’s opinion.

(Adapted from


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