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MRA hails European Union court’s judgement on ‘Right to be Forgotten’

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FILE PHOTO: European Union flags. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has commended the landmark judgement of the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for resolving the dispute over Google’s responsibility to remove information from the Internet, known as the ‘Right to be Forgotten’.

It described the ruling as useful in advancing freedom of expression globally.

The court, which is the apex in matters of the European Union (EU) law, held that de-referencing requests under the EU Directive could only be applied within the EU.

Executive Director of MRA, Mr. Edetaen Ojo, said the victory removed an unwarranted restriction on the right to freedom of expression, arguing that the implementation of the French regulator’s 2015 decision demanding the removal of information from the internet could result in censorship and unjustifiable interference with the right to freedom of expression in many countries outside the EU.

The ruling arose from a dispute between Google and French privacy regulator, La Commission Nationale Informatique et Libertés (CNIL), which in 2015 ordered the internet giant to globally remove search result listings to pages containing damaging or false information about a person.

The matter was referred to the CJEU by France’s Conseil d’Etat, to which Google appealed over the CNIL decision.

About 18 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which specialise in the defence of human rights and online freedom of expression in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, had intervened before the Conseil d’Etat in France, while 13 of them, including MRA, also approached the CJEU.

The issue for determination was: where a regulator in one EU country requires information to be removed from the internet, should that be given effect in that one country, across the EU or globally?

Represented by Ms Caoilfhionn Gahhagher (QC), Mr. Jude Bunting and Ms Jennifer Robinson, the NGOs argued that global de-listing would have grave consequences, far beyond the impact on the rights of Google and that it would undermine freedom of expression and human rights activism around the world.


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