News Item

ENISA Statement regarding the landmark online privacy ECJ-ruling on Google search engine and the Right To Be Forgotten

Published on May 13, 2014

The EU’s cyber security Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht commented on the European Court of Justice’s ruling on the Google search engine today;

“The right to be forgotten has for the first time been recognized by the EU-Court of Justice. As such, this is a landmark decision for the privacy of the EU citizens. It is a fundamental ruling, deciding on a current, “hot” topic in the societal debate, namely how we deal with our personal data and the digital tracks we leave behind. Moreover, while naturally respecting the ECJ legal discretion and full independence as an EU-Institution, we are pleased to note that the ECJ ruling happens to be in line with ENISA’s recommendations on the topic; namely, in one of our earlier reports; we concluded; one way to overcome the challenges of the Right To Be Forgotten, and the balance in between technology and privacy was;

..." the enforcement of the right to be forgotten is to require search engine operators and sharing services within the EU to filter references to forgotten information stored inside and outside the EU region."

This is a positive step in the correct direction; that you as a citizen should be able to delete your own, old data or photos online, just as you can do with printed paper.

So, the ECJ has, independently supported our view; our assessment was correct, which we are pleased to take note of. Now, it will be interesting to follow how search engines will implement this in practice, as to protect the privacy of individuals and the right to protection of personal data of the EU citizen’s digital fundamental rights.

Notably, the verdict only affects European citizens; in Asia and the United States they have a different understanding of Internet privacy. Yet, this is an important first step to develop the legal right for the citizens to delete their data, which is a process which is just in the beginning. We would like to have a global legal system for Internet which is prepared for the future; this is a fundamental issue for our society” Professor Helmbrecht concluded.


Background: See Conclusions in the ENISA report on the Right To Be Forgotten

See also: ENISA's statement in Spanish and Swedish



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