The Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in Luxembourg heard argument yesterday concerning the “right to be forgotten”—specifically, whether search engines such as Google must block search results when asked by European citizens to remove references to themselves.
This particular case—which is representative of approximately 200 similar cases in Spain—came before the CJEU when Google declined to comply with an order from the Spanish Data Protection Authority. A Spanish citizen, Costeja, wanted Google to de-list references to a publication in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, which discussed the auction of Costeja’s house in connection with his failure to pay social insurance contributions.
Google has taken the position that search engines should not be obligated to remove links to valid (i.e., non-incorrect, defamatory, or otherwise illegal) material that exists online. Rather, only the original publisher can make the decision to remove such content, at which point it will disappear from the search engine index once removed from source webpages.