Search Engines and the Right to Be Forgotten

Some time ago it was reported that a Spanish court had ordered Google to delete records of people’s private information on the ground that the applicable privacy laws gave them a ‘right to be forgotten’.

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice published an opinion on this topic last month. In short, he opined that the EU Privacy Directive did not include a right to be forgotten, and that search engines did not control personal information in any event so were not subject to rules about handling personal information as ‘controllers’ under the Directive (or the national laws implementing it.)

Does that sound right to you? It is certainly good news for search engines.


  1. David Collier-Brown

    The Well, a major early discussion board, optionally permitted a person to delete their past history as part of closing an account. It was mostly ignored for some time, until a leading light of some of the discussion decided to leave and remove all his comments.

    This was startling to the other members, who suddenly found entire chunks of discussions missing, and citations pointed nowhere.

    Imagine, if you would, a book of case law with every tenth case removed…