Google fights French ‘right to be forgotten in EU court

Blanche Robertson
September 13, 2018

He called on the ECJ to "limit the scope" of the right to be forgotten. Because of the ruling, users can request that a search engine such as Google remove certain information, such as personal information, from queries.

For its part, Google has argued that the policy could allow for individual censorship within countries to be applied globally. It said by not doing so, Google isn't respecting citizens' right to privacy.

Microsoft and groups like the Internet Freedom Foundation and the Wikimedia Foundation intervened in Tuesday's hearing, as well as legal representatives for France, Ireland, Greece, Austria and Poland. And that "right to be forgotten" requests are a QUOTE: "serious assault on the public's right to access lawful information".

It's a comparatively new idea, but a landmark ruling in 2014 from the European Court of Justice set the initial parameters of how it might apply.

While the content remains online, it can not be found via online searches of an individual's name.

That is to say, if a request is made for the removal of content from, then it won't be removed from a search executed from, for example.

Since 2014, the search engine has received more than 700,000 requests to delist information amounting to 2.7 million web addresses.

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France is headed to the European Court of Justice to establish whether it can force companies such as Google to de-list search results globally. But its main bone of contention is that Google isn't delisting the results everywhere. Its general counsel, Kent Walker, said in a blog post in November that complying with the order "would encourage other countries, including less democratic regimes, to try to impose their values on citizens in the rest of the world".

The search giant has the backing of a wide range of human rights and media organisations, including Article 19, a British-led human rights organisation.

In essence, it would mean regulators globally would have to hide articles that met the criteria not only from European domains such as, but and other worldwide iterations of search engines.

"This case could see the right to be forgotten threatening global free speech", Thomas Hughes, the executive director of the freedom-of-expression group Article 19, said.

In a related case that will also be heard Tuesday, the European Union court will be asked to weigh in on a request by four people in France who want their search results to be purged of any information about their political beliefs and criminal records, without taking into account public interest.

"This would effectively erase the public's right to know important information about people who represent them in society or provide them services", the firm said in a blogpost.

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