In a case between France's Data Protection Authority and Google, the advocate general for the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) published his initial opinion this week, stating that the right to be forgotten is enforceable only within the EU.
Back in 2014, the CJEU ruled that EU users have a “right to be forgotten,” enforced by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. However, what the court didn’t make clear is whether or not Google and other companies have to delete users’ data upon request only within the EU or globally.
A written opinion by the court’s advocate general, Maciej Szpunar, has now said that the right to be forgotten is only enforceable within the EU, and not worldwide. This opinion is of note,because the final CJEU ruling tends to agree to the advocate general’s initial opinion.
Civil Liberties Organizations Get a Win
Civil liberties organizations have previously said that extending the right to be forgotten globally could encourage more oppressive regimes from China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and other countries to follow suit and demand from companies that their censorship becomes global.
The advocate general also said that the right to be forgotten should be balanced against other rights, such as the legitimate public interest to accessing information, data protection and privacy. Critics of the right to be forgotten have always said that data erasure requests should be balanced with the public’s right to know about certain crimes or events, otherwise it could be used for censorship.
France CNIL Loses the Case
The new opinion from the advocate general is for a case in which CNIL, France’s Data Protection Authority, fined Google 100,000 euro for failing to remove an individual’s name from all of its domains across the internet. Google only blocked the name from appearing in the EU region. It then appealed to the CJEU to have the fine annulled.
Since 2014, when the CJEU established the right to be forgotten within the EU, Google has been flooded with millions of data erasure requests. The right to be forgotten has also been codified into the GDPR in the first half of last year. Although this opinion states that the right to be forgotten will not be applied outside of the EU, it should continue to be applied within the EU.