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Search Engine Not Controller, EU Court Rules

PRIVACY LAW—EU

June 25, 2013

The EU’s top court ruled on Tuesday that Internet search engines cannot be considered “the controller” of personal data hosted on other websites, Bloomberg reports. EU Court of Justice Advocate General Niilo Jaeaeskinen said in a nonbinding opinion, “A national data protection authority cannot require an Internet search engine service provider to withdraw information from its index.” The case, C-131/12, stems from approximately 200 orders from Spain’s Data Protection Authority for Google to remove personal data from indexed websites. A spokesman for Google said, “This is a good opinion for free expression…We’re glad to see it supports our long-held view that requiring search engines to suppress ‘legitimate and legal information’ would amount to censorship.” Field Fisher Waterhouse Partner Eduardo Ustaran, CIPP/E, said, “A search engine is just a tool…The nature of that information is irrelevant. It’s just ones and zeros.”
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