16th May 2014

Google loses a “right-to-be-forgotten” case before the European Court of Justice

On 13 May, the Court of Justice of the EU ruled against Google concerning the so-called right to be forgotten. The Luxembourg-based EU court´s task was to respond to a question posed by one of the Spanish national courts concerning the application of the EU data protection legislation of 1995. In the case before this Spanish court, Google sued the Spanish national data protection regulator´s decision that Google is obliged to delete certain personal data from its database in order for such data not to come up as search results in case someone types the person´s name into the search engine. Google pointed out, that its indexing engines only collect online data provided by third parties and therefore Google should not be held responsible for the inconvenient appearance of personal data in its search. It should be the online publishers of the data that should be asked to remove personal data. The Spanish court asked the EU Court of Justice about the application of the 1995 data protection directive in this case. The EU court ruled that by indexing online content, which obviously contains personal data, Google is in fact processing personal data and therefore the obligations set forth by the directive apply to it. Consequently, if a person asks Google to stop processing his or her personal data, Google is obliged to delete such data from its database. The court also pointed out, that such requests need not be accepted all and that there exist circumstances, when the person does not possess such right. This would be the case, for example, of a publicly active person. The case comes in a time when the new data protection package is being debated in the Council following its adoption at first reading by the outgoing European Parliament.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic