James Crisp. Freelance journalist in Brussels.

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Ministers move to ensure ‘right to be forgotten’ applies to non-EU companies

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. 6 May 2011. [EPP Group/Flickr]

Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. 6 May 2011. [EPP Group/Flickr]

Data protection laws will apply to all companies doing business in the European Union, national justice ministers agreed today (6 June), as they adapted legislation to take a recent EU ruling against Google into account.

The European Court of Justice decided in May that California-based Google was responsible for processing personal data appearing on web pages published by third parties, such as newspapers (here). Google had appealed an order from the Spanish data authority to remove information about a man whose home was auctioned off to pay for unpaid taxes.

The Luxembourg court rejected Google’s argument that the processing of personal data by Google Search was unrelated to the context of Google Spain’s activities. It said Google Spain should be defined as an “establishment” of Google Search and so must apply EU privacy law.

By agreeing on two main points, a so-called “partial general approach”, rules that govern data transfers to third countries and the scope of the proposed regulation, the ministers brought the proposed Data Protection Regulation in line with the Google ruling. Both Council and European Parliament must agree an identical text before it can become law.

But ministers failed to agree on common underlying principles relating to net neutrality, the principle of open internet. They had different views on how to balance net neutrality and reasonable traffic management. Net neutrality is the principle that governments and internet service provider should not discriminate between data on the internet on the basis or user, content or site (more here).

Luxembourg Justice Minister Félix Braz said, “The recent ruling by the court of justice has been discussed[…]we’ve got the case of Google Spain and it shows it is the court busy implementing the law in this digital era, it really is up to us as legislators to update our regulatory framework[…]Let’s not let the court do our work for us.”

Commissioner Viviane Reding said at the meeting in Luxembourg, “On the data protection reform, we clearly moved from dormant to dynamic negotiations. It’s in the interest of companies to have legal certainty rather than having to spend money on costly law suits only to arrive at the same result at the end.”

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This entry was posted on November 10, 2014 by in Google, Journalism and tagged , , , , .

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