Monday

19th Oct 2020

EU sides with Google in data protection case

The European Commission has said it backs Google's victory at the EU court against the French data protection watchdog CNIL, in a case allowing people to have their names removed from search engine results.

The tech giant support from the Brussels-executive followed a ruling on Tuesday (23 September) at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg in a legal battle between the right to privacy and free speech.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

A European Commission spokesman told reporters in Brussels that the Luxembourg judgement was "in line with the position the European Commission took in this case."

That line means Google will not now be required to remove the names of people that appear in search engine results when queried from sites outside of the European Union, if it is so requested.

Google received more than 3m requests in Europe to delete links from search results since 2014, and complied with almost half of the demands.

But the French CNIL in 2015 told Google it had to delist the names worldwide. Google refused, resulting in a €100,000 fine and a case now settled by the EU's top court.

"The CNIL considered that if a link about an individual living in France was delisted, the information about him or her should not be accessible anymore, regardless of the country from which the search was carried out," the CNIL said, in a statement.

The CNIL, like all EU state data protection authorities, is tasked to ensure compliance of the EU data protection regulation, also known as GDPR.

But the Luxembourg judge disagreed, siding with Google along with the backing of the European Commission, when it comes to the so-called 'right to be forgotten'.

The right entitles people to ask search engine operators like Google to delist their names from search results.

'No comment'

The CNIL is part of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), a Brussels-based body in charge of ensuring the consistent application of EU data protection rules.

Asked by EUobserver to comment on the case, the chair of the EDPB declined.

The CNIL says it will now study the ruling over the next few days and then publish the results as a FAQ on its website.

It has also yet to respond when asked if it was surprised by the European Commission siding with Google in the case.

Patrick Breyer, a German MEP and member of the Pirate Party, also weighed in.

He said the blocking of search engine references to legal content is more of an issue of regulators imposing barriers on the internet.

"Internet users should avoid using Google anyway because it is spying on them in order to manipulate and exploit them commercially," he said.

Analysis

GDPR does not (yet) give right to global oblivion

The 'right to be forgotten' will become enshrined in EU law on Friday, but it is not yet clear to what extent it will apply. Will the EU's law determine how the internet looks globally?

Investigation

'Redacted' - what Google and Microsoft told Mogherini on AI

Is Mogherini's 'Global Tech Panel' just a talking shop, or does it contribute to EU policy? New documents suggest the latter, but give little clue how technology leaders from Microsoft and Google influence new AI strategy.

EU 'tax lady' hits Google with record fine

Margrethe Vestager has fined the US tech giant with €4.34bn for abusing its market dominance in mobile operating systems - but assured US president Donald Trump that it is not because she does not like America.

Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill

Spain's socialist-led coalition has proposed changing how members of the country's top judicial body, the General Council of the Judiciary, are appointed - triggering a political and judicial storm about the independence, and drawing 'double standards' complaints from Poland.

News in Brief

  1. Italy takes extra measures as Covid-19 infections rise
  2. Coronavirus: Brussels worst in Europe, health minister says
  3. Vandalism sparks call for EU action on 5G disinformation
  4. Belgium installs curfew, closes restaurants and bars
  5. Ireland to probe Instagram's use of EU children's data
  6. Belarus: 10th weekend rally in a row against Lukashenko
  7. Warfare continues to rage in South Caucasus
  8. Turkish Cypriots elect nationalist president

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption efforts in some members sates - while it considers Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have good governance measures.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. France marks trauma of history teacher's murder
  2. Spain's Sanchez in storm over judicial appointments bill
  3. Violating promises and law, von der Leyen tests patience
  4. Brexit and EU budget in spotlight This WEEK
  5. A ghost town haunts the future of Cyprus
  6. EU leaders unsure how to talk to Turkey
  7. EU leaders discuss Turkey's air and sea 'provocations'
  8. EU's 2030 climate target left for December summit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us