Google wins privacy case on EU right to be forgotten

  • Google has won a legal case in the European Court of Justice, confirming that the EU privacy rights don't have to be applied to search results globally.

    The European Union has a history of being strong on enforcement of personal privacy rights, with its GDPR legislation having already been successfully used to pursue firms in Canada and other countries. One such right granted to EU citizens is the "right to be forgotten," which allows individuals to have old information about themselves to be removed from the internet.

    The law helps to stop adults from being tarred by a permanant online record of things they did or said as teenagers, recognising that people can change in the span of their lives. It has been applied most often to search engines such as Google, where a request will lead to a URL being de-listed from all search results to help stop people finding the offending content.

    Google has just won a landmark legal case in the EU's highest court on the matter which will no longer require it to de-list URLs from search results globally in response to a right to be forgotten request. The ruling confirms that Google is only required to de-list search results accessed from within the EU.

    This ruling could problematic when combined with the recent rise of increase in use of tunnelling Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) by consumers accessing the internet. An EU citizen accessing google from within the EU can use a VPN to appear to be accessing the site from another country such as the United States, and would see the de-listed results. Those results could then be shared on social media, negating the effect of the law.

    Google argued that applying de-listings globally could be even more problematic, allowing governments to suppress information and cover up human rights abuses. The ability to remove listings from Google could also allow individuals to effectively rewrite their own personal online history. In seeking this ruling, Google aimed to "strike a sensible balance between people's rights of access to information and privacy."

    Source: BBC News

    About the author

    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

    Got a news-related tip you’d like to see covered on Sync NI? Email the editorial team for our consideration.

Share this story