EU Privacy Regulators to Set Standards To Address Right to Forget Decisions

Sept. 18 — European Union privacy regulators are working to establish common standards for handling complaints regarding Internet search engine company decisions on right to be forgotten requests from EU citizens, the Article 29 Working Party said in a Sept. 18 statement.

The Working Party, which is made up of data protection officials from the 28 EU member states, met Sept. 16-17 in Brussels to discuss implementation of the new legal requirement that search engines balance the public's right to information with an individual's right to privacy regarding outdated or irrelevant information in deciding whether to remove search links.

In particular, the group discussed Google Inc.'s actions in implementing the requirement.

Complaint Handling Procedure

The EU's top court, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) May 31 issued an opinion holding that EU data subjects have the right to compel Google and other search engines to remove certain search results linking to websites containing personal information about them. Google, the world's largest search engine, was the named defendant in the underlying right to forget request in Spain.

The ECJ told privacy regulators that they should be prepared to handle complaints regarding search engine company decisions on whether to honor right to be forgotten requests to remove search links.

The working party said it “feels it is necessary to have a coordinated and consistent approach in the handling of these complaints.”

To facilitate that effort, the group said it will establish “a network of dedicated contact persons in order to develop common case-handling criteria to handle complaints.”

The network will provide regulators with a “common record of decisions taken on complaints,” as well as a system to “help identify similar cases as well as new or more difficult cases,” the Working Party statement said.