Germany Says Forget Your “Right to Be Forgotten” in Two Cases Involving Google: Data Privacy Trends

In two cases weighing rights under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regarding Google, Germany’s top court rejected appeals in both of them, deciding that the right to information superseded the right to be forgotten.

As covered in Legaltech News® (Google Triumphs in ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Cases in Germany, written by Eva von Schaper), Google does not have to delete links to a factually correct, albeit unflattering news article, Germany’s federal court of justice ruled in two separate cases on Monday.

Siding with the lower courts in rejecting the two appeals, the Court decided on individuals’ rights to have the internet-search giant Google remove links to articles about them, also known as the right to be forgotten, or the right to erasure, as follows:

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Case #1

In the first case, the court said Google is not obliged to remove links to articles solely because their subjects deem them to be unfavorable, the German high court, Bundesgerichtshof (don’t ask me to pronounce that!), ruled, according to a statement on the judgment.

The case concerned the employee of a charitable organization, who had gone on sick leave after the charity that had fallen into financial difficulty. His case, including his full name, was reported in local newspapers nine years ago. The articles could be found by searching for his name on Google.

The data protection law GDPR “requires a comprehensive weighing of fundamental rights, which must be carried out on the basis of all relevant circumstances of the individual case and taking into account the seriousness of the encroachment on the fundamental rights of the person concerned on the one hand, the basic rights of the defendant, the interests of its users and the public as well as the basic rights of the providers of the contents proven in the objected result links on the other hand,” the court said in the statement.

Case #2

In the second case, a couple had objected to a critical report about a business venture that involved one of them. The couple demanded that both thumbnail images displayed in the search results and articles be removed. The German court passed the case to the European court of justice, to clarify questions dealing with the responsibility of verifying internet content and the use of pictures in search results, the court said in the statement.

If “Zee Germans” choose not uphold the right to be forgotten, then the battle over data privacy is far from over.  What about the enforceability of GDPR in US courts?  Tomorrow at 1pm ET, The Sedona Conference® will be conducting a webinar on the topic to discuss The Sedona Conference Commentary on the Enforceability in U.S. Court of Orders and Judgments Entered Under GDPR recently released for public comment (which I covered earlier this month here).  Should be interesting!

So, what do you think?  Are you surprised that the German court ruled in favor of Google and against the right to be forgotten?  Please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

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