‘Right to be forgotten’ – Google case

Kamil Augustyniak


The Court of Justice of the European Union stated (Case C-131/12) that every EU Citizen has right to protect his/her private information that can be removed from search engine results if it is ‘inadequate, irrelevant, or no longer relevant’.

Globalization, technological progress and flow of information are, surely, the major advantages of contemporary world. Everyone can search an information in the Internet and find private data about his/her neighbors. In numerous cases we do not mind the information about us is commonly available because we posted it by ourselves. Everything is good till we can control what others read about us. The difficulty starts when the information appears without our knowledge or offend us somehow.

In response to cyber-world

On 25th January 2012, Viviane Reding (the European Commission Vice-President responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship) proposed a new document – General Data Protection Regulation – that would be an amended EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. In order to avoid breaching peoples’ privacy in cyberspace more efficiently than before, the document has to be transformed and catch up 21st century.That what distinguish a new suggested document will be a possibility to ask service providers to delete the personal data from a particular web-page or a list of results that is displayed following a search made on the basis of consumer’s name. When such request is reasonable, the links containing that information must be removed, unless applicant is a public person and the free access to a particular information is justified.

Personal data protection dispute: Google Spain v Mario Costeja González

In 2010 Mario Costeja González, a Spanish national, complaint against La Vanguardia Ediciones SL (the publisher of a daily newspaper with a large circulation in Spain) and Google Inc. The applicant found that after putting his name in search engine, the results display links to pages relating to La Vanguardia’s newspaper from 1998. The articles included an announcementabout real-estate auction for recovery of social security debts owed by Mr Costeja González. The two possible solutions of this dispute were proposed by applicant to each subject. The newspaper either removes or alters the page so that the applicant’s name will not appear anymore. Similarly with Google, personal details will be removed or covered in order to protect Mr Costeja González private interest. After all, the Spanish Data Protection Agency rejected the request against La Vanguardia because all these information has been published lawfully. However, the complaint against Google was upheld and requested to remove personal data from their index. As a result, the Google company appeal to Spanish National High Court which referred several questions to the Court of Justice of the EU that ruled that Mr Mario Costeja González has right to ask for such removal.

What Google says?goog

In view of Google company the decision is described as disappointing. People will tend to overuse this right to feel better. If they do not like the information, they will ask for removal and no legal oversight will be necessary to succeed. Failing to comply with the regulation will cause high fines.

Supranational effect

From the perspective of an ordinary citizen the changes are essential due to the fact that nobody in the Internet is anonymous so that faked information will disappear irretrievably. The EU legislation entered the higher level by readjusting problems of contemporary world. Since the judgment is officially approved, the new policy has to be transferred into all Member States’ laws, according to the rule of primacy of the EU law.

Read the judgment and official opinion:


Read more about the primacy of the EU law over the laws of the Member States: https://europensblog.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/roots-of-primacy-of-the-eu-law-over-the-laws-of-member-states/


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