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The Right to be Forgotten under Scrutiny in the EU Court of Justice

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In 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that online information that is no longer accurate, adequate and relevant should be removed. This was the beginning of the European set of rules commonly referred to as the “right to be forgotten”. Google and other search engines fought the measures, but eventually had to comply and begin the delisting of information from local country domains. Now, the Internet giant finds itself again in hot water, as the rules could be extended worldwide.

Opening Pandora’s Box

Google plans on fighting these players and highlights the dangers of less democratic regimes following suit. On one hand, European regulators are frustrated by the fact that the company has only partially complied, by not delisting information from international domains. In France, the regulators claim that the search engine company doesn’t respect the rights of its citizens, by exploiting a legal loophole.

Not only Google, but also Bing and Yahoo will have to comply with the new laws, if the European Court of Justice rules in favor of the extension. Backed by several human rights organizations, these companies warn about the danger of other countries taking similar actions. Saudi Arabia, Russia and China could resort to similar measures, effectively limiting the access to information.

While these companies are concerned about the prospect of the “right to be forgotten” being expanded, others feel that more needs to be done. The ECJ hears other cases, where people claim that sensitive personal data should be automatically removed by the search engines. Regardless of how the European Court of Justice rules in this case, British citizens will only be subject to its effect for a few more months. That is because the UK will leave the Union in March 2019 and will no longer be subject to the ECJ decisions