Google and Spain Wrestle over EU Privacy Law

By Sharmeen Mazumder


In a case presented to the European Court of Justice, Spanish officials argued that Google should delete information from search engine results where an individual’s privacy is breached. Google argues that it should not be required to remove lawful content which it did not create from its search index. The case issued from a Spanish man’s complaint that Google search results of his name resulted in a newspaper announcement made several years prior. The announcement stated that property owned by the individual was up for auction due to his non-payment of social security contributions.


One major issue presented by this case is whether Google can be considered a data “controller,” or is merely a host. Another major issue is whether a Google, a search engine rune by a company based in California, can be subject to EU privacy law. The ECJ will address both of these questions when it rules on the matter by the end of the year. The outcome of the hearing would be relevant in all EU countries. Further, this case could determine the scope of new draft provisions of the EU law, which are intended to strengthen individual privacy. Some of those proposed rules would give individuals the right to have personal data deleted from the web.

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