An article from the Wall Street Journal notes that advisers to the European Union’s top court have suggested that Google shouldn’t be forced to apply the E.U.’s “right to be forgotten” rules outside the E.U.
In a recent article titled “Google Nears Win in Europe Over ‘Right to Be Forgotten’,” the Wall Street Journal notes that advisers to the European Union’s Court of Justice have argued that search engines such as Google should not be forced to comply with the E.U.’s “right to be forgotten” rule which allows European citizens to request certain links or information be removed from search engines when their name is searched.
The Journal writes:
Google and other search engines shouldn’t be forced to apply the European Union’s “right to be forgotten” beyond the bloc’s borders, an adviser to the EU’s top court argued Thursday.
The recommendation—if followed by the EU’s Luxembourg-based Court of Justice—would be a major victory for Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., which has for three years been fighting an order from France’s privacy regulator to apply the EU principle globally.
Maciej Szpunar, an advocate general for the court, argued in Thursday’s nonbinding opinion that if the EU ordered removal of content from websites accessed outside the EU, there was a danger that other jurisdictions would use their laws to block information from being accessible within the EU.
“There is a real risk of reducing freedom of expression to the lowest common denominator across Europe and the world,” Mr. Szpunar wrote.
It is expected that the courts will make a ruling on this issue within coming months, although the court does not always follow the suggestions of outside advisers when it comes to policy and legislation, it is also not uncommon for them to do so. This makes it even more likely that the court will follow the advice of advisers such as Szpunar.
This would be a major win for Google which is fully behind Spuznar’s suggestion:
Backed by an array of free-speech advocates, the tech company has argued that expanding the territorial scope of the right to be forgotten would infringe on other countries’ sovereignty and encourage dictators and tyrants to assert control over content published beyond their countries’ borders. The EU’s executive arm also argued in September that the right shouldn’t be extended overseas.
At issue in the case is the right, established by the court in 2014, for EU residents to demand that search engines remove links containing personal information—such as a home address—from searches for their own names. Under the 2014 ruling, search engines must then balance those requests against the public’s right to associate the information in the link with that individual, taking into account, for instance, whether the person is a public figure.
Since that decision, Google has removed 1.1 million links from search results in the EU. But it left those links intact for the same searches conducted outside Europe.
If the E.U. decides not to extend the “right to be forgotten” policy worldwide, it has been suggested that geolocation technology be used to block certain search results for those inside the E.U. but not for those outside of it:
Until now, the search engine has removed results from searches for an individual’s name from all European versions of its website, and from non-EU Google sites when accessed from the EU country as the person who requested removal is located. Google says it does this because standards about removals vary from country to country within the EU.
But the advocate general recommended ordering Google to use the same geolocation technology to remove the results from all Google websites when accessed from any EU country.