A right to oblivion on the basis of Art. 17 DSGVO gives only a right to deletion of the affected search engine entries on the respective country versions of the search engines for the EU states.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) had to decide in advance whether it was sufficient for the right of forgetting that the removing links were only removed from the respective search engine registers of the EU countries. Google took this action after the French data protection authority (CNIL) asked Google to remove certain links to websites on all Google domains. Specifically, in a name-based search, the links were to be removed from the list of results (discontinuation). Google only removed the links to domains relevant to EU countries and suggested geoblocking IP addresses to prevent access via other Google domains. The CNIL did not consider this to be sufficient and subsequently forfeited Google with EURO 100,000 due to late discontinuation.

In its decision, the European Court of Justice states that both Art. 12 letter b and Art. 14 para. 1 letter a of Directive 95/46 and Art. 17 para. 1 DSGVO do not grant any right to oblivion which may have an effect outside the European Union. However, it obliges Google to take measures which should be sufficiently effective to “ensure effective protection of the fundamental rights of the data subject”. Internet users in the EU states should be prevented or reliably prevented from accessing the relevant links in a list of results. The French Council of State is responsible for checking whether geoblocking on the basis of IP addresses is such a sufficient measure.

The European Court of Justice will not fail to point out a possible loophole for the EU states to introduce a global right to oblivion. He notes that, on the basis of national protection standards for fundamental rights, supervisory authorities can balance the right of the person concerned to respect for private life and personal data on the one hand with the right to free information on the other, and this could possibly enable a more extensive right to forgetfulness. Based on this, search engine operators could be encouraged to list from all versions of their search engines. It will be exciting to see whether the supervisory authorities would make use of this clear indication and whether such a decision would stand up to a review by the European Court of Justice.