A European Union ruling defined how Google will handle requests to remove links that include sensitive information from citizens. The so-called “right to be forgotten” will only need to be met in the versions of the search engine aimed at the countries of the bloc.
The European Court of Justice stated in its decision that the requirement that search engines comply with requests and exclude sensitive version links for all countries in the world is not provided for in European Union rules.
“EU law requires a search engine operator to perform this dereferencing on the versions of its search engine corresponding to all member states [da União Europeia]”, Indicated the Court.
The right to be forgotten has existed since 2014 and allows European citizens to request that links to pages with sensitive personal data be removed from search engines. It mandates companies like Google to exclude information that is “inappropriate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive”.
In 2015, the National Commission for Informatics and Freedom (CNIL), the French body that regulates privacy-related issues, determined that Google would remove links to pages with harmful or false information about a person worldwide.
Google did not remove search results from its versions for all countries and, in 2016, it was fined EUR 100,000 by CNIL. The agency understood that links should be deleted globally to prevent them from being found when switching the browser version to another country.
The company, in turn, said the decision could contribute to authoritarian governments that could globally remove any relevant but unwanted information. Instead, in 2016 it created a geolocation feature that prevents users in the European Union from finding removed links even if they change the version of the search engine to another country.
The decision of the European Court of Justice, which maintains the practice, was congratulated by Google. “Since 2014, we have worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe and to find a sensible balance between people’s right of access to information and privacy,” said the company. “It is good to see that the Court agreed with our arguments.”