Google is not required to apply an EU “right to be forgotten” to its search engine domains outside Europe, the EU’s top court ruled Tuesday in a landmark decision.
The European Court of Justice handed victory to Google in the case, seen as crucial in determining whether EU online regulation should apply beyond Europe’s borders or not.
The US internet giant had argued that the removal of search results required under EU law should not extend to its google.com domain or its other non-EU sites.
The court ruled that, while a search engine operator such as Google must carry out “de-referencing” of links as demanded by a regulator or court in an EU state to all European versions of its sites, that “right to be forgotten” did not need to go further.
“There is no obligation under EU law” for search engine operators such as Google “to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine,” the court said.
The case, seen as pitting individuals’ rights to privacy online against freedom of information, stemmed from a legal battle waged by France since 2014 to have Google apply the “right to be forgotten” to all its search domains.
If France had won, it could have deepened a rift between Europe and the United States, which is home to most of the internet’s behemoths and whose President Donald Trump has railed against what he sees as EU meddling in US business.
In the end, though, the EU court found that EU law on the issue did not seek to have its “right to be forgotten” extend beyond its borders.
Google hailed Tuesday’s decision by the EU court.
“It’s good to see that the court agreed with our arguments,” its lawyer, Peter Fleischer, said in a statement, adding that Google has worked “to strike a sensible balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy”.
The US company and other stakeholders had warned that authoritarian countries outside Europe could abuse global de-referencing requests to cover up rights violations.
– Closely watched case –
Google’s position was bolstered in January by a non-binding opinion from the EU court’s top legal advisor, advocate general Maciej Szpunar, that recommended the judges “should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out, to the EU”.
The case had been closely watched, especially as Europe has also already emerged as a global rule-setter in terms of data protection on the internet.
A 2016 General Data Protection Regulation it enacted that covers all EU citizens and residents has forced many sites and companies around the globe to comply with its measures.
In terms of the “right to be forgotten” legal fight, France’s data regulator, the Commission Nationale de l’Informatique et des Libertes (CNIL), had argued that, for de-referencing to be effective, it must apply to all domains wherever they are.
In 2016, CNIL fined Google 100,000 euros ($110,000) for non-compliance. Google appealed to France’s highest court, which in turn referred to the European Court of Justice, ending up with Tuesday’s ruling.
Trump announces Rudy Giuliani ‘wants to go before Congress’ and testify about his Ukraine dealings
President Donald Trump on Saturday said that his personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, wanted to testify before Congress.
Speaking to reporters as he departed for a Republican fundraiser in Florida, Trump praised the former New York City mayor.
"Rudy, as you know, has been one of the great crime fighters of the last 50 years," Trump said of his lawyer, who is reportedly under federal investigation for breaking the law.
"And, he did get back from Europe just recently and I know -- he has not told me what he found, but I think he wants to go before Congress and say, and also to the attorney general and the Department of Justice," Trump said.
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On Saturday, Maggie Haberman of The New York Times profiled how President Donald Trump is having less luck whipping Republican governors into line than Republican senators, including governors who arguably owe their election to his support.
"In Florida, Mr. Trump’s aides helped save the flailing candidacy of Ron DeSantis in the 2018 Republican primary, and then the general election," wrote Haberman. "Also last year, in Georgia, Mr. Trump helped pull Brian Kemp over the finish line in both the primary and the general election. In both cases, Mr. Trump’s advisers implored him to stay out of the primaries, and he agreed to — only to surprise his aides by jumping in to support Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Kemp."
Courts have avoided refereeing between Congress and the president — Trump may change all that
President Donald Trump’s refusal to hand over records to Congress and allow executive branch employees to provide information and testimony to Congress during the impeachment battle is the strongest test yet of legal principles that over the past 200 years have not yet been fully defined by U.S. courts.
It’s not the first test: Struggles over power among the political branches predate our Constitution. The framers chose not to, and probably could not, fully resolve them.