No Europe, Google does not have to delete all your personal data

EU court did not create true right to be forgotten, experts said at a forum

A Google representative confirmed on Thursday that the so-called European right to be forgotten will not apply to the Google.com domain, nor for that matter to country-specific Google domains outside of Europe.This means that, in practice, query results the company stops showing on its European domains will still turn up on its other sites, including its main one.The comments, made at a forum in Brussels on Thursday by Marisa Jimenez, Google's privacy policy counsel, provoked disbelief. The Google.com domain was not targeted at the EU in general, she said. The comments come following widespread media speculation that a May 13 ruling by the European Court of Justice created this new right to be forgotten.However, experts from the European Commission and the European Data Protection Supervisor were at pains this week to point out that the court was simply applying the current Data Protection Directive to a search engine.The ECJ was asked by Spanish courts to rule on a case involving Costeja González, a 58-year-old lawyer, who claimed that Google was directing people to outdated and irrelevant information about him, specifically a 10-year-old Spanish newspaper notice about a mortgage foreclosure against him.The court decided that a search engine, in this case Google, did constitute a data controller and as such was subject to the 1995 law. Google was ordered to remove the links.Jimenez said on Thursday that the company had been very surprised by the ruling, particularly as it went against the advice of the ECJ's advocate general. However, she added that extrapolating the ruling to mean that the Internet can somehow "forget" was wrong.Joe McNamee, from the European Digital Rights group, EDRi, concurred. "There is no real right to be forgotten," he said at the forum. "The information is still indexed, it's just that a search involving a person's name will not call it up. Users can still find the information using other search terms."He added that he did not believe the ruling would have a huge practical impact. Google has so-far received 41,000 requests to remove links to information, but McNamee pointed out that this is not a huge number compared with the EU's 500 million citizens. However, he said that the principle of a private company making decisions about the balance between the right to privacy and public interest or freedom of expression, was completely wrong. "No private company should be making these decisions," he said.Jimenez said that "the vast majority of cases" have to do with newspapers and legal cases, so it is not easy." She added that everyone who fills in the webform requesting a link be removed would get an acknowledgement.She said there had been quite a few requests from former politicians requesting that links to newspaper articles be removed. However in the ruling, the ECJ made clear that any right to be forgotten must be balanced against the the interests of the public having access to that information. "The role the person requesting the deletion plays in public life might also be relevant," reads a European Commission statement.There have also been requests from individuals offering services such as painting and decorating to have links to comments about their work removed prompting speculation that the ruling could have broad implications for review sites."We are getting a lot of questions from all sectors," said Christopher Kuner, a partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm in Brussels. "In some cases the ruling clearly doesn't apply, but there is a very broad grey area. It is certainly about much more than just Internet search engines."Meanwhile Google had been criticized by the Hamburg data protection commissioner, Johannes Caspar, for requesting proof of identity from individuals asking for links to be removed. But Jimenez said on Thursday that there was no requirement for photo ID unless it was in relation to requests to remove image links.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Googleregulationsecuritylegislationgovernmentprivacy

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?