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Court Rules 'Right To Be Forgotten' Applies To Google Only In EU

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The European Union's top court has ruled in favor of Google that the 'right to be forgotten' rules do not apply to the Internet giant's search engine domains outside the EU.

The European Court of Justice's decision means Google needs to remove links related to sensitive personal data only from its search results in Europe and not in other parts of the world.

The "right to be forgotten" is a concept that has been put into practice in the European Union. It reflects the claims of an individual or citizen of the EU to demand or have certain data, including videos, photographs or information, related to them to be deleted from internet records so that third persons can no longer trace them.

"Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator .... to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine," the court said in its ruling.

The court decision is the result of a dispute between Google and French data regulator CNIL.

In 2015, CNIL ordered Google to remove sensitive information from global internet search results under the "right to be forgotten" rules. The CNIL argued that for de-referencing to be effective, it must apply to all Google domains worldwide and not just in Europe.

The following year, CNIL imposed a fine of 100,000 euros on Google for non-compliance with the order. Google later challenged the fine and appealed to France's highest court, which in turn referred to the European Court of Justice.

Google had argued that authoritarian countries outside Europe could abuse the global de-referencing requests in order to cover up violation of human rights.

The tech giant hailed the EU court's decision on Tuesday. "Since 2014, we've worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe, and to strike a sensible balance between people's rights of access to information and privacy. It's good to see that the court agreed with our arguments," Google said.

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