The Court of Justice of the EU Judgment on Data Protection and Internet Search Engines
Final version published as "The Court of Justice of the EU Judgment on Data Protection and Internet Search Engines: Current Issues and Future Challenges", in: Burkhard Hess and Cristina M. Mariottini (eds.), Protecting Privacy in Private International and Procedural Law and by Data Protection 19-55
23 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2014 Last revised: 29 Nov 2015
Date Written: September 15, 2014
In Case C-131/12 Google Spain v. AEPD and Mario Costeja Gonzalez, issued on 13 May 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union made several important pronouncements about EU data protection law, and in particular recognized a right under the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46 for individuals to suppress links generated by Internet search engines (popularly referred to as the “right to be forgotten”). The Court’s holdings leave many important questions open, both in regard to technical legal issues and more high-level issues of general jurisprudential and societal importance. The Court also failed to take the significance of the case for the Internet into account. The judgment suffers from the Court’s traditionally minimalist style of argument and reluctance to adopt a more open and discursive style. The material and territorial scope of the right to suppress Internet search engine results are potentially much wider than the ability to implement the right effectively, suggesting that a way must be found to define the scope of the right in a way that is proportionate to the ability to implement it, if the judgment is to provide real protection in practice.
Keywords: European Union, data protection, right to be forgotten, Court of Justice, privacy, EU law, fundamental rights
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