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  • Visitors pass by the logo of Google at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019.

    Visitors pass by the logo of Google at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 September 2019

“Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject ... to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine."

The tech giant Google (GOOGL.O) has won a landmark court case against the European Union this week, which wil give them the right to not have to apply for Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law globally.

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The victory for the U.S. tech titan means that, while it must remove links to sensitive personal data from its internet search results in Europe when required, it does not have to scrap them from searches elsewhere in the world.

The case has been viewed as a landmark test, in an age of an internet that knows no borders, of whether people can demand a blanket removal of information about themselves from searches without stifling free speech and legitimate public interest.

It has also been seen by policymakers and companies around the world as a test of whether the European Union can extend its laws beyond its own borders.

“Currently, there is no obligation under EU law, for a search engine operator who grants a request for de-referencing made by a data subject ... to carry out such a de-referencing on all the versions of its search engine,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said in its ruling.

Google welcomed the decision, saying: “It’s good to see that the court agreed with our arguments.”

The world’s most popular internet search engine has previously warned of the dangers of overreach by Europe. In a blog post two years ago, it said there should be a balance between sensitive personal data and the public interest and no country should be able to impose rules on citizens of another.

The right to be forgotten was enshrined by the same European court in 2014 when it ruled that people could ask search engines like Google to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from web results appearing under searches for their names.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, has since received 845,501 requests to remove links, and removed 45 percent of the 3.3 million links it was asked to scrap.

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