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Landmark decisions on global right to be forgotten expected around the world

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Landmark decisions on global right to be forgotten expected around the world

The decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union that is considered to have “invented” the Right to be Forgotten in 2014 clearly held that the judgement was not meant to directly impact the news media. Nevertheless newspapers from all around the world are receiving dozens of requests daily to remove information from their online archives on the basis of “right to be forgotten” claims.
Moreover, it has come to our attention that publishers around the world are amending, anonymizing and generally violating the integrity of their archives upon “right to be forgotten” requests. These circumstances shine an entirely new light on the impact that all decisions on right to be forgotten such as the ones mentioned below have on the newspaper industry, far beyond the sheer number of news pieces that are delisted directly by search engines.


Google will soon appear before the French Conseil d’Etat to defend its position that "Europe’s right to be forgotten” should not "reach beyond the borders of Europe and into countries which have different laws”.

At the end of March the French Data Protection Authority CNIL issued Google with a 100,000 € fine sanctioning its practice of limiting the global removal of links in the case of successful right to be forgotten claims to searches performed in the European country concerned. Today someone from France who asks for a link to be removed will have it hidden from and, when accessed from France. This geoblocking approach to delisting was adopted by Google in February 2016, and it satisfies the Data Protection authorities of Spain and the UK.
In May Google officially responded to the CNIL with an article published in French newspaper Le Monde, cross-published on Google’s European blog. The piece announced Google’s appeal of the CNIL’s order, to be decided in early 2017. If defeated before the Conseil D’Etat, Google will not have any means of appeal left, and successful claims on grounds of right to be forgotten will lead to global delinking.


The first court that ordered global delinking was the Supreme Court of British Columbia, issuing its ruling a mere couple of months after the first right to be forgotten decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union. That ruling is now under review before the Superior Court in Canada.
The Equustek case regarded a manufacturer of networking devices fighting the practices of a competitor which advertised Equustek Solutions products on the Internet, while sending to customers their own products instead. Following several judicial actions and subsequent court orders to cease their deceptive practices, the defendants brought their business entirely online, and started operating through a network of websites.
Google complied with Equustek’s requests to remove the defendant's 345 URLs from search results on, but refused to do so on its other domains. Called to decide on the matter, the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered Google to remove the offending links from all of its domains globally.
The appeal was heard early this month and Google’s position was supported by more than a dozen media organisations, concerned about the potential consequences of the judgement on content providers. 

A year of right to be forgotten

For a complete review of the matter, have a look at our report and follow the developments of our observations from the initial relief to the dismay that we settled on during the summer. 


Elena Perotti's picture

Elena Perotti


2016-12-21 12:21

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