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European Court of Justice

Google under the “right to be forgotten.”

Google has had problems when it comes to the right to privacy in Europe for years. In the latest suit, Google is locked in a legal battle with Spain over "the right to be forgotten."Google and Spain have argued their cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union. Google argued that it will not delete information unless it meets certain criteria and Spain believes that Google has breached the "right to be forgotten."

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) heard arguments in Google´s latest case. Spain´s Data Protection Agency has ruled that Google breached individuals’ right to be forgotten. As a result, the search engine giant was ordered to take down links or information that can be deemed as harmful to an individual. Google, stating that such an action would set a precedent, has taken the trial to the CJEU.

A concise statement of the underlying facts of the case is provided by Reporters:

The Spanish citizen, Mario Costeja, filed a complaint with the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) against Google and the newspaper La Vanguardia on 9 March 2012 after discovering that a Google search for his name produced results referring to the auction of real estate property seized from him for non-payment of social security contributions.

The AEPD rejected Costeja’s complaint against the newspaper on the grounds that “the publication of the information was legal and was protected by the right to information” but, with extraordinary inconsistency, upheld his complaint his complaint against Google, ordering the search engine to eliminate about 100 links from all future searches for Costeja’s name.

From the Spanish government’s point of view its data protection authority is simply vindicating the recently articulated right (of individuals) “to be forgotten” — to have content or data about them removed from the search index upon request. From Google’s perspective, if the court agrees with Spain, the outcome would be tantamount to granting individuals the right to censor Google.

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