Here, a small win for Google is in greater good

Here, a small win for Google is in greater goodHere, a small win for Google is in greater goodGoogle has been battling a case in Europe over the bloc’s stand on the ‘right to be forgotten’ since last year.TNN | Jan 11, 2019, 08:58AM IST

  • What: Google has been battling a case in Europe over the bloc’s stand on the ‘right to be forgotten’ since last year. On Thursday, it received a boost when the European court of justice (ECJ) found in a preliminary opinion that the right should not be enforceable globally. It is a non-binding opinion and the actual court verdict is expected only later this year, yet this is a win for Google.
  • The contention: The European Union has been leading the world on the protection of internet users’ privacy, a role cemented when it passed the extensive General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) last year. But this case pertains to a French ruling by the National Commission for Information Technology and Civil Liberties (CNIL) in 2015 that demanded that a user’s ‘right to be forgotten’ be enforced globally, and not just within France. Say if a user who had defaulted on a loan and was a subject of a news article requests a ‘right to be forgotten’ after he clears his dues, search engines such as Google would have to delist the original news article in all regions, not just France.
  • The problem: That, however, is a broad take on the right to be forgotten, say many. Should a user’s right to be forgotten outweigh the public’s right to information? What if the subject is a public personality? This is among the reason, why Google’s objection to the French rule was backed by many news organisations.
  • The status: In his opinion, the ECJ advocate general said “search requests that are made outside the territory of the European Union should not be subject to the de-referencing of search results”, and highlighted the need for a “balance” between the right to be forgotten against the public’s “legitimate interest” in accessing information. Usually, ECJ’s judgments are in line with the advocate general’s opinion. Note: India’s draft privacy bill too had a clause on right to be forgotten, so lawmakers here are expected to take note of the ECJ ruling.