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Right to be forgotten – sometimes…

May 21, 2016, By

Google attempts to limit the scope of legislative ruling

It’s been reported that Google is appealing to the French High Court to limit the scope of the right to be forgotten. The present right to be forgotten is enshrined in case law (Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Costeja González) since 2014; soon to be protected by law in the General Data Protection Regulation. Case law decided that Google must remove links to pages that “appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive”.

For a time, Google had been removing related search results from a few of its domains (e.g. .co.uk and .com) however the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) decided this was not sufficient; Google had to remove from all its domains in order to comply with the 2014 ruling. Google has now officially filed its appeal. It has been reported that Google’s general counsel stated that Google complies with the laws of the countries in which it operates. But if French law were to apply globally, it would not be long until other, less democratic countries, started to demand adherence to their laws in their country. It is alleged that Google received 88,814,884 requests to remove URLs this month alone (just on copyright infringement). If the administrative burden extends into international removal of URLs, Google may find itself at huge administrative costs to comply.

Given that the law may change in two years, it is interesting to see Google’s strong stance in this respect. We await and see the results of the appeal – and whether an appeal decision will be the final result (indeed the next result may be appealed even again!). Briffa suspects this won’t be the last we hear of this issue.

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