The right to be forgotten on the Internet

Court of Justice (CJ) May 13, 2014. issued an extremely important ruling for the protection of privacy rights and data protection in the case between Google Spain SL and Google Inc. a Agencia Espanola de Protecctón de Datos (Spanish Data Protection Agency) and M. Costeja Gonzalez, ref. C-131/12.

The Court of Justice said that the provisions of Art. 12(b) and Art. 14(a) of the first paragraph of the Directive, require that the operator of an Internet search engine be required to remove from the displayed list of search results having as its starting point a person’s name and surname, links to websites published by third parties containing information concerning that person, also in cases where that name or that information has not been previously or simultaneously removed from those websites, and where applicable, even if its publication on those websites is lawful.

According to the CJ’s statement, under Art. 2(b) of the Directive, the activities carried out by search engines to locate information published or posted on the Internet by third parties, index it automatically, temporarily store such information and finally make it available to Internet users in an orderly manner according to specific preferences, when such information contains personal data, must be considered the processing of personal data. In addition, the Court of Justice indicated that the operator of such a search engine must be considered a data controller within the meaning of Art. 2(d) of the directive, responsible for data processing.

The IJ’s assessment should analyze the question of whether a data subject has the right to have the information pertaining to him or her no longer, in the current state of affairs, linked to his or her name through a list displaying the results of a search having that name as its starting point, such determination being unrelated to whether the inclusion in that list of search results of the information in question causes harm to that person.

According to the IJ, it should be weighed against the fact that the activities of search engines contribute to making data available on a global scale for Internet users conducting searches, taking the first name as a starting point.

and name of the person in question, including such users who, without the search engine’s service, would not have found the site where the data is published. The Court said that the data subject’s rights to respect for private life, family life and protection of personal data are, in principle, overridden by the interests of the operator and by the interests of Internet users potentially interested in accessing this information.

Source: Atamańczuk & Deboa Law Firm