Right to be forgotten to be limited to EU only

News by SC Staff

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Google does not have to comply with GDPR's 'right to be forgotten' - except in the 28 EU domains.

Yesterday the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Google does not have to comply with GDPR’s ‘right to be forgotten’ - requests by individuals to have online links referencing them removed from search engines - except for those in the 28 EU domains.

In response, Daniel Castro, vice president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), issued the following statement, saying: "The ruling is an appropriate step to curb European overreach that jeopardised the future of the global internet. The EU should not be allowed to impose its own rules on other countries and the rest of the Internet. Further, the Right to Be Forgotten prioritises the right to privacy over all other goals, such as free speech and innovation. The EU should seek to strike a better balance as it crafts other laws and regulations affecting the Internet."

Presumably, the UK will no longer be covered if/when it leaves the EU, thus https://www.google.co.uk would join google.com in being exempt from the provisions, though this would also depend on the nature of any agreements that might accompany or follow exit.

However, Giles Watkins, UK country lead at the International Association for Privacy Professionals pointed out to SC that because GDPR has been incoporated into the UK legal system it is already part of UK law. He added that it had been intended, if a Brexit deal were agreed, that the UK would stay alligned with the EU during any transition phase, therefore the right to be forgotten would apply here, but in the event of a No-deal Brexit the UK would be treated by the EU the same as the rest of the world.  

EU advisor, Advocate General Maciej Szpunar, said in January that he was "not in favour of giving the provisions of EU law such a broad interpretation" that they apply outside the bloc's member states and had recommended limiting its scope to the EU.

Google has used "geoblocking" to filter all Google site results to Europeans since 2016 so they will not see the information a person in their country wants to limit, and this is presumably the mechanism referred to when the ECJ called for search engine operators to put measures in place to discourage internet users from going outside the EU to find that information.

Google has had 850,000 requests to remove links to about 3.3 million websites since 2014.

In a personal capacity, Watkins said that organisations would need to ensure they complied with the law and it was not their place to decide what was in the social good. But if they, or society felt that limiting access to information by restricting the right of search engines to link to content that existed was wrong, then they would need to lobby for a change in the law.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Video and interviews