Monday, March 2, 2015

Internet – A Right to be Forgotten?

            Last year, on May 13, 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its ruling in Google Spain SL and Google Inc. v Agencia Española de Protecciónde Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja González ("Case").  In that case, the CJEU found that Google was a data controller under EU law (see Case, para 41), and therefore should remove links from its search engine to articles relating to Mr. González's home foreclosure because the proceedings had been resolved. 

            The finding that Google should remove links has been coined a "right to be forgotten."  However, that is an oversimplification because there is no literal right to be forgotten.  Rather, E.U. citizens may have a right to have certain information delisted from a search engine results when the citizen can show that the information is "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to those purposes and in the light of the time that has elapsed".  See Case, para 94.  However, if the citizen plays a role in public life, then the right can be curtailed.  See Case, para 97.

            It is important to note that the right to delist from a search engine does not mean that the material from the original source has been deleted.  See Working Party Guidelines, at p.2.  Rather, it makes finding information about a particular subject much more difficult.

- Henry Park

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