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Google can apply the right to be forgotten locally, EU top court rules

(Image credit: Image Credit: Asif Islam / Shutterstock)

Google has won an important legal battle against a European communications watchdog, which allows it to apply the right to be forgotten (opens in new tab) locally, instead of globally.

Google’s search engine has localised websites, for Europe and individual countries, for Russia or Asia, to name a few. The French privacy regulator, CNIL, ordered the company back in 2015, to remove search results (opens in new tab) leading to damaging or false information about a person, from all of its sites – globally.

Instead, with the help of geoblocking, Google decided to censor these search engine results in Europe, only.  So CNIL decided to fine Google with more than $100,000 for its behaviour.

The search engine giant took CNIL to EU’s top court and – won.

"Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject... to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine," the European Court of Justice ruling said.

Google’s main point is that, if it were to censor all results globally, the feature could be abused by authoritarian governments trying to cover up malicious practices.

"Since 2014, we've worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten (opens in new tab) in Europe, and to strike a sensible balance between people's rights of access to information and privacy," the firm said in a statement following the ECJ ruling.

"It's good to see that the court agreed with our arguments."


Sead Fadilpašić
Sead Fadilpašić

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.