Europe’s Top Court Limits ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Privacy Rule

But in 2015, the top data-protection regulator in France, known as CNIL, said that Google’s geographically targeted approach didn’t go far enough and that it wanted the company to remove links from its global database. The authority argued that a regional application of the rule was worthless because people could still find the information if they were outside Europe.

Google and other opponents of enlarging the territorial reach, including the Wikimedia Foundation, Microsoft Corp., Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Internet Freedom Foundation, argued people would try to use the rule in Europe to erase unflattering information elsewhere.

“Courts or data regulators in the U.K., France or Germany should not be able to determine the search results that internet users in America, India or Argentina get to see,” Thomas Hughes, executive director of Article 19, a privacy group that supported Google in the case, said in a statement.

The decision leaves open the possibility for France and other national governments within the European Union to force Google to take down links globally in special cases judged necessary to protect an individual’s privacy.

The other case that was decided on Tuesday stemmed from an attempt by several individuals to require Google to remove links to websites found when searching for their names. They argued that certain categories of data, such as information related religion, political beliefs, sex life and past criminal convictions, should be expunged from search results.

The court gave a mixed ruling, saying certain categories of data deserve special consideration but must be weighed against the public’s right to information.

The individuals who brought the case included a politician under investigation, someone convicted of sexual assault against minors and a person referred to as a public relations officer in the Church of Scientology.

Opponents of their demands said removing links would have set a dangerous precedent and made it much easier for information in the public interest to be deleted from the internet.