The Right to Be Forgotten in the Google Spain Case (Case C-131/12): A Clear Victory for Data Protection or an Obstacle for the Internet?
16 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2014 Last revised: 5 Sep 2016
Date Written: July 26, 2014
The right to be forgotten is a new right that is introduced in the General Data Protection Regulation (Regulation 2016/679), which has been widely discussed. Critics, on the one hand, disagree with its necessity and hold the view that it represents the biggest threat to free speech on the Internet in the coming years. Viviane Reding, former EU Justice Commissioner and former Vice-President of the EU Commission, on the other hand, describes this right as a modest expansion of existing data privacy rights. The Court of Justice of the EU with its decision of 13 May 2014 in case C-131/12 confirmed this view, interpreting the provisions of Directive 95/46/EEC in such a way as to include a right ‘to be forgotten’ on the Net. The case refers particularly to search engines and their obligation to remove links to web pages from their lists of results, following requests of data subjects on the grounds that information should no longer be linked to their name by means of such a list and taking into account that even initially lawful processing of accurate data may, in the course of time, become incompatible with the directive where those data are no longer necessary in the light of the purposes for which they were collected or processed. This ruling addresses only one aspect of the ‘right to be forgotten’, which concerns the role of Internet Intermediaries, but has wider implications that need to be examined.
Keywords: Data protection, freedom of expression, right to be forgotten, right to oblivion, search engines
JEL Classification: K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation