Google wins 'right to be forgotten' fight to stop worldwide links being removed

Europe's top court rules it does not have to remove links to sensitive articles globally

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of Google logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
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Google has won its fight against privacy regulators to stop its worldwide links to sensitive personal data being removed.

On Tuesday the European Union's top court ruled against French privacy regulators in favour of Google.

France's privacy watchdog CNIL had fined Google €100,000  (Dh404,000) in 2016 for refusing to to delist sensitive information from internet search results globally upon request in what is called the "right to be forgotten".

It had initially made the demand in 2015 which Google refused to comply with.

The online giant then challenged France's Council of State, which turned to the European Court of Justice for guidance.

Google won the backing of ECJ court adviser Maciej Szpunar earlier this year who said that the right to be forgotten should only be enforced in Europe and not globally.

Law expert Richard Cumbley, a partner at law firm Linklaters, said it was an important case.

"The case highlights the continuing conflict between national laws and the internet which does not respect national boundaries," he said.

He said it had been "unlikely" that the court "would give the right to be forgotten global effect."

"This would create a serious clash with US concepts of freedom of speech and other states might also try and suppress search results on a global basis reducing Google's search engine to a list of the anodyne and inoffensive."

A Google report showed that it removed 45 per cent of the 3.3 million links from 845,501 requests received in the last five years since the ECJ enshrined the right to be forgotten in Europe in 2014.

The world's most popular internet search engine has previously warned of the dangers of over-reach by Europe.

In a blog post two years ago, the company said there should be a balance between sensitive personal data and the public interest and that no one country should be able to impose its rules on citizens of another.

Google is planning to invest €3 billion to expand its data centres across Europe in the next two years.