According to the news report by Bloomberg, Alphabet Inc.’s search giant, Google has shot down France’s privacy watchdog’s efforts to globalize the right to be forgotten. Google told European Union judges that the French regulator was “out on a limb”.
During a hearing at the European Union’s Court of Justice, Google stated unequivocally that expanding the scope of the right to be forgotten to global levels was “unenvisagable”. According to Google this kind of a move would interfere with people’s rights to the freedom of expression as well as information and would also lead to continuous conflicts with other countries that did not recognize the right to be forgotten.
This hearing was held at Luxembourg on Tuesday, and the French lawyer representing Google during this hearing, Patrice Spinosi, told the panel of 15 judges that the French privacy watchdog, the CNIL’s approach to global delisting seemed to lack any justification or evidence. Spinosi also stated that this demand by the CNIL was in complete contrast to other recent judgements.
This latest hearing by the EU’s Court of Justice will help clarify the terms of the court’s historic ruling in 2014, when Google was forced to remove links related to information about people if it was outdated or irrelevant.
Currently, Google removes all such links all across the European Union. Since 2016, the company also began restricting access to this type of information on non-European Union Google sites if that information is accessed from an EU country where the person whose information it concerns is based.
The EU has already mandated that Google delete about 2.7 million links to websites, however, the American company has agreed to delete less than half of them. This is led to people who are unhappy with Google’s refusal to remove certain links to file complaints with privacy regulators in Europe.
According to the CNIL’s lawyer Jean Lessi, the right to have his or her information delisted is a breath of fresh air for the person concerned. Lessi also went on to argue that Google’s policy with regard to this matter didn’t infringe on a person’s fundamental right. All it did was reduce accessibility.
Lessi went on to defend why CNIL was looking at making the right to be forgotten a global mandate. According to Lessi, such rights should not just be limited to the EU since that would make them dead rights.
Google’s arguments were surprisingly supported by many newspapers, which have been frequently embroiled in battles with the tech giant on other issues. According to the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, by removing links globally, too much power was being given to private companies such as Google to decide what news should be shared with the public.
The association also stated that as it is, most newspapers got a large number of requests on a daily basis, asking for information to be removed from online archives. These requests cite the right to be forgotten as their reason.
Google was not the only company to protest this demand by the French regulator. Microsoft Corp. as well as groups such as the Wikipedia Foundation and the Internet Freedom Foundation also showed up at court to protest this demand. There was also legal representation from France, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Austria, arguing either for or against this proposal. There was, however, no representation from the UK.
A lawyer for the European Commission, Antoine Buchet stated that the key aim of their hearing was to ensure that there was equal protection for all countries of the EU.