RTBF Stops at the Border: CJEU Sides with Google on the Scope of De-Referencing
October 16, 2019
On September 24, 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (the “CJEU”) handed down its much anticipated follow-on judgement in connection with an individual’s right to have links removed from search results displayed following a search of that individual’s name on Google’s search engine.
Building on its recognition of a “right to de-referencing” in its landmark 2014 Google Spain judgment (establishing the so-called “right to be forgotten” or “RTBF”), the CJEU now further clarified the territorial scope of such right, and limited the de-referencing obligation to Google’s search engine websites corresponding to EU Member States, as opposed to all domain name extensions (e.g., the obligation applies to domain names with top-level domain (“TLDs”) corresponding to EU Member States, such as “google.fr” for France or “google.be” for Belgium). The Court added that Google may need to use, “where necessary”, measures effectively preventing or seriously discouraging an internet user from accessing (on other versions of the search engine, which are not subject to the de-referencing obligation) the links at issue from an EU Member State. As a consequence, Google has no obligation to remove the links at issue on all Google websites worldwide (such as on “google.com”), but may need to implement sufficiently effective measures to prevent Internet users from accessing the links from the EU.
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