Groundbreaking decision of the Court of Justice of the European Union on data protection


On 8 December 2022, the Grand Chamber of the Court of Justice of the European Union ("CJEU") issued an important interpretation of Article 17 of the GDPR [right to erasure/forgetting] in a preliminary ruling in Case C-460/20 (Google). Since this CJEU judgment, Google has been required to assess the veracity of the data to which it is referring inaccurate when examining data subjects' requests to exercise the right to erasure and, if that data is false in the light of the evidence provided by the data subject, Google "[...] is [then] obliged to comply with that [data subject's] request to remove the reference."

A case is pending before the German courts in which members of an investment group are asking (suing) Google to delete referring links to articles that could be found between 2015 and 2018 after typing the names of members of the investment group into Google's search engine. These articles are alleged to contain false and defamatory opinions about plaintiffs. Both the first- and second-instance courts dismissed the action on the ground that "[G]iven that the operator of the search engine [Google] generally has no legal relationship with those providing the content shown, and given that it is impossible for that operator to investigate the facts and assess them while also taking account of the opinions of those providers, the operator of the search engine is subject to specific obligations to act only when it becomes aware, following a specific notification from the data subject, of a prima facie flagrant and clearly discernible infringement of the law."