The CJEU’s decision in the Case of Google Spain, Google v. AEPD has caused a lot of discussion around the globe (See both Anna’s and Stefan’s blog about the decision). Search Engines, especially Google, have called for guidance on how to decide whether information connected to a person’s name is
“inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing at issue carried out by the operator of the search engines”
and thus has to be deleted.
Against this background, I had the chance to attend a presentation held by Daniel Schönberger, Head of Legal Switzerland & Austria, Google Switzerland GmbH in Zurich. His speech mainly gave an overview of the Google Spain Case with a huge emphasis on how Google “feels” about the burdon the CJEU has put on them with its decision in May this year. He also emphasized, that for now Google Switzerland – even though they are not part of the EU – is adhereing to the decision made in Google Spain. Furthermore, another interesting fact was, that generally they do not delete information off their search function for legal entities even if they file a complaint. This was suprising to some of the listeners as in Switzerland the data protection act protects natural and legal persons. Either way, he did give a small insight on how the proceedings go, once a complaint is filed with them using the correct form (see also Peter Fleischer’s summary of the criteria addressed to the Article 29 Working Party):
Daniel Schönberger did though emphasize that the majority of requests they have been able to look into, resulted in the removal of the information as requested (he gave figures, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to catch them).
Although Google has come up with a sort of check-list to ensure that all requests are treated the same, Daniel Schönberger expressed that more legal certainty ought to be given by the EU on how to implement the “right to be forgotten” when dealing with removal requests.
In response to the issues addressed in this presentation and many other calls for more guidance in the news, the Article 29 Working Party published a press release ten days ago, stating that it also feels that
“it is necessary to have a coordinated and consistent approach in the handling of these complaints.”
So far, no common guidelines for EU member states have been published but there is hope that such recommendations will be published soon in order to ensure more legal certainty for search engines and of course the people filing such complaints in the future.