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This week’s historic ruling by the European Court of Justice has sent ripples throughout the world and has garnered wide-ranging reaction from regulators, businesses and privacy experts from both sides of the Atlantic. On Tuesday, the court ruled that Google must delete links to personal information when an individual requests it. By Wednesday, commentary by the U.S. tech industry and EU regulators began rolling in, and on Thursday, Reuters reported that Google was already receiving takedown requests. Below is a truncated timeline of the week’s events and reactions.

Tuesday, 13 May

In a reversal of a preliminary ruling in June 2013 by Advocate General Niilo Jääskinen, the court ruled that Google must provide users, in certain instances, with a right to delete links about themselves, including, in some cases, public records. This initial report from The Privacy Advisor includes:

  • Analysis of some of the ruling’s language
  • Public-sector commentary from Viviane Reding and German Green MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht
  • Initial reaction from privacy experts Christopher Kuner, Eduardo Ustaran, CIPP/E, and Richard Cumbley
  • Concern from experts on whether the ruling will bolster censorship or stymy freedom of expression online
  • In a separate analysis, Privacy Tracker featured analysis of the decision by DLA Piper’s Patrick Van Eecke

Wednesday, 14 May

By the next day, more reaction resonated throughout the press on both sides of the Atlantic. This roundup of the day’s commentary includes:

  • A video interview with Future of Privacy Forum Cofounder Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US
  • Reaction from Harvard’s Johnathan Zittrain, The Brussels Office for the Computer and Communications Industry Association’s  James Waterworth, Oxford University’s Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, the Center for Democracy & Technology’s Justin Brookman and former U.S. Federal Trade Commission Director of Consumer Protection David Vladeck
  • Praise from Spanish Data Protection Authority Jose Luiz Rodriguez and cautious optimism from Europe-v-Facebook Founder Max Schrems
  • Comments from Google and Yahoo

Thursday, 15 May

By Thursday, Reuters reported that Google was already receiving takedown requests.

  • Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said Wednesday, “There’s many open questions,” adding, “A simple way of understanding what happened here is that you have a collision between a right to be forgotten and a right to know. From Google’s perspective that’s a balance,” adding, “the balance that was struck was wrong.”
  • BBC News reports on specific takedown requests received by Google, including one from an ex-politician wanting an article about his bad behavior deleted; a man convicted of child abuse requesting links to his conviction removed, and a doctor wanting negative reviews erased from search results.
  • Though Europeans can submit takedown requests directly to Internet businesses, it’s not yet clear what determines a legitimate request, George Washington Law Prof. Jeffrey Rosen said.
  • European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx said, “The European Court of Justice is sending a strong message in this case … It is now up to the countries to provide consistency in how it’s interpreted.”

Written By

Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/E, CIPP/US


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