Executive Summaries » The Long Reach Of Europe’s Right To Be Forgotten

The Long Reach Of Europe’s Right To Be Forgotten

April 20, 2015

The so-called “right to be forgotten” (RTBF) has been the subject of much debate and attention since the publication of the Costeja v. Google opinion from the Court of Justice of the European Union in May of 2014. The CJEU held that, under certain conditions, a European citizen has the right to demand that a search engine remove links to information pertaining to him or her if that information is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” – a definition that may include information that is truthful.

Cases similar to Costeja have been brought in Asia and the Americas, and the ruling and its aftermath are significant for businesses world-wide.

The topic also has the attention of the Article 29 Working Party, which includes representative from the data protection authority of each EU Member State. In November 2014, the A29 published guidelines to explain the position of the EU Data Protection Authorities. Among other things, they provide that accepted delisting requests must be implemented on all domains operated, worldwide, by the entity receiving the delisting request, and not just on its EU domains.

Though RTBF is still in its infancy, it has been the subject of much interest and comment. Hopefully, the concept will evolve and be refined. In the meantime, American companies that offer search capabilities or operate large databases should understand the likely implications of the CJEU and other cases addressing similar issues, and the application of the A29 Guidelines.

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