Court advisor says Google can limit 'right to be forgotten' to the EU

Search results don't have to be removed by Google outside of the EU

An EU court advisor has said Google has the power to limit how it uses the right to be forgotten, following the over-ruling of a fine presented by French authorities who wanted the rule to apply around the world. 

Maciej Szpunar, Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, said there was a need to balance what the rule seeks to achieve in terms of an individual's rights with other rights. 

"The fundamental right to be forgotten must be balanced against other fundamental rights, such as the right to data protection and the right to privacy, as well as the legitimate public interest in accessing the information sought," he said. 

Google was fined by France's privacy watchdog in 2016 because it didn't delist sensitive information outside of the EU. That meant those searching for information in the US, Asia or other areas were able to find information that had been removed for search engine visitors within the EU.

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However, the EU courts said it doesn't have to delist information outside of the region and that the right to be forgotten only needs to be respected within European borders.

However, France's CNIL data protection authority said that Google should remove search results if a person requests it to, whether this relates to searches from within Europe or outside of it. 

"We've worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 per cent effectiveness," said Peter Fleischer, Google's senior privacy counsel.

In a Transparency report published in February 2018, Google said it had received more than 2.4 million right to be forgotten requests since 2014. At that time, it also confirmed it had complied with 45% of those deletion requests. 

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