On May 13, the European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) unexpectedly decided the case regarding the so-called "right to be forgotten" in favor of individuals’ privacy rights. The "right to be forgotten" enables people to have their digital traces removed from the internet. The search engine Google can now be required to remove sensitive information that infringes an individual's privacy rights from its internet search results.
In ruling against the advocate general's opinion, the ECJ sided with supporters of privacy rights and stated that the general public's interest of free expression and free speech do not outweigh privacy infringements. Even though this decision will have an immediate effect only on companies like Google, it is important to note the European trend in heightened privacy and data protection. The ECJ's decision is in line with the Europe's proposed General Data Protection Regulation that, once enacted, will not affect only European companies, but also American companies processing personal data of European residents.