Late last week, the Article 29 Working Party released a short press statement announcing that it had agreed guidance for the implementation of the May 2014 CJEU ruling against Google on the “right to be forgotten.”  See our first post on the Working Party’s guidance here.  The Working Party has now published a full 20-page guidance document here that is more detailed and addresses many additional issues.

Among the highlights of the new guidance not covered in our previous post:

  • The Working Party also set out “minimum information” that data subjects wishing to exercise the right must provide, including (1) why the data subject is seeking a de-listing, (2) the specific URLs the data subject wants de-listed from the search engine, and (3) an “indication of whether [the data subject] fulfills a role in public life or not.”
  • The Working Party clarified that websites are not required to delete information as a result of the right to be forgotten, which applies only to search engines and the de-listing of search results.
  • The Working Party appears to have accepted the practice developed by some search engines of declaring when individual name searches are performed that some results may have been removed to comply with EU data protection law, but only on condition that such notices cannot be used to identify requestors.
  • Another practice developed by some search engines to notify publishers when their content is the subject of an RTBF request has been questioned by the Working Party, however.  The Working Party stated concerns that the practice involves singling out specific requests and communicating them to publishers, who can then identify requestors — a processing of personal data “without basis” in European data protection law according to the Working Party.  That said, the Working Party does note that it may be appropriate for search engines to contact publishers in order to obtain more information when making judgment calls on whether or not to de-list.

In addition, the Working Party ends the guidance note by setting out a “matrix” of thirteen factors which the Working Party advocates that data protection authorities use when assessing right to be forgotten complaints raised by requestors who have not had their requests for de-listing accepted by search engines.  The factors range from the role played by the data subject in private life, to the age of the data subject, to whether the information has been published by the data subject and/or journalists.  The factors will prove helpful to search engines seeking to understand how data protection authorities will interpret the ruling, and also to individuals seeking to better understand the scope of their rights.