The court case was about whether to expand the right to be forgotten law beyond Europe

Google has won a ruling from the EU Court of Justice that could have forced it to apply EU rules about its search results globally.

Five years ago, judges in Luxembourg decided that Google had to delete links that led to sensitive details if asked to do so after a case was brought by French privacy watchdog CNIL. This meant that Google had to remove information such as criminal convictions from its search results upon request.

One case resulted in a businessman winning a High Court bid to have a past crime he committed deleted from search results.

However, judges at the top EU court said on Tuesday that they agreed with the Polish lawyer, ruling that Google does not have to remove links to sensitive personal data globally. Experts had warned that ruling in favour of CNIL for a second time may encourage certain governments to demand the removal of any topic they felt necessary but Thomas Hughes, executive director of British human rights organisation Article 19, said: “Courts or data regulators in one country should not be able to determine the search results that internet users around the world get to see.

“When making a decision to de-list websites, they need to strike a proper balance between the right to freedom of expression and other rights.”

Google has also warned about the potential dangers of over-reach by the European court. Previously, the company said there should be a balance between sensitive personal data and public interest, and that no one country should be able to impose its rules on citizens of another.

Google has been fined €100,000 (£88,284) by CNIL for failing to comply with the original ruling.

The company said that it had removed 45% of the 3.3 million links it had been asked to remove – more than 845,000 requests since 2014.

What we think

People need to stand up and talk with their feet and leave Facebook! When someone can get information on you via social media, the territorial scope of what GDPR is begs a lot of questions if someone decides to go to the high court. The internet respects no boundaries and GDPR probably doesn’t go far enough in the digital world. It will have to. If Google can go to court in order to uphold its right to reveal people’s details then the courts are going to be very busy with individuals’ rights to secrecy.

America, Russia and the GDPR need to connect and demand transparency. GDPR applies internationally and can encroach on the national laws of non-EU countries – in Russia, international companies must fulfil the requirements of both the GDPR and local laws, even though they may contradict each other. There is much to do.