European Union Court Requires Google to Follow Right to Be Forgotten- Invalidates Data Privacy Directive

Posted by: Jan Meisels Allen

Even though the second chamber of the European Union (EU), the  EU Council, has not yet voted upon the Proposed Data Privacy Regulation, the European Union Court has required that Google follow the “Right to Be Forgotten” in specific cases including deletion of links to embarrassing legal records—even if what is reported is true.  This is raising questions by some if the proposed data regulation is needed as the Court decision was so encompassing. To read the Court’s decision go to:
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Two EU member countries, Ireland and Austria, brought the cases to the European Court asking them to review the data privacy directive in the light of the fundamental right to respect for private life and the fundamental right to the protection of personal data. The European Court struck down the data retention directive passed as part of anti-terrorism measures in 2006, after attacks in London and Madrid. The data retention directive affects internet and phone surveillance by requiring the companies to store data on who contacts whom, when, how often, and from which locations, for between six months and two years.  More information is available in the European Observer

The EU Court decision effects only the 28 EU member countries. To read the press release by the European Court see:

To read more about the Court decision read the New York Times article at:  
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The Proposed Data Privacy Regulation includes the right to be forgotten and the right to erasure both issues that are of concern to genealogists who want assurance that records of genealogical value will continue to contain essential information.

In the US, the National Public Radio (NPR) had a brief discussion on the recent European Union Court decision to invalidate its Data Protection Directive and the Right to be Forgotten. Georgetown University Professor Meg Ambrose who was being interviewed cited a recent California law* which permits minors to have embarrassing materials removed from their social media internet pages. While that law addresses only minors, Professor Ambrose believes the conversation of the “right to be forgotten” will be a conversation held in the United States even though the European Union Court decision does not affect what happens in the United States.  To listen to the 5-minute interview on NPR go to:
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*The California law SB 568 (2013) was signed September 2013 and is called, “Privacy Rights for California Minors in a Digital World”.  S.B. 568 includes a provision known as the “Delete Button” or “Eraser” law, which allows minors under 18 to request that companies delete specified information that the requestor had previously posted online  The law becomes effective January 2015. To read Chapter 336 of the2013 Laws of California see:

Thank you to Paul Silverstone, IAJGS Treasurer and member of the IAJGS Public Records Access and Monitoring Committee for alerting us to the NY Times article.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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