Google Spain versus AEPD and Mario Cotija González -Google Spain v AEPD and Mario Cotija González
Google Spain SL, Google Inc. v. Egencia Española de Protection de Dato’s, Mario Cotija González (2014) is the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ). It held that an Internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing of personal data appearing on websites published by third parties.
The upshot of the ruling is that an Internet search engine must accommodate requests from individuals to remove links to freely accessible web pages that result from searches conducted on their behalf. Reasons for removal include cases where the search results are insufficient, irrelevant, or no longer relevant or excessive in light of the passage of time”.
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Protection of Personal Data
If the search engine rejects the request, the individual may ask the relevant authorities to consider the case. Under certain condition, the search engine may be order to remove link from the search result. The decision claimed the so-call right to be forgot.
Although the court did not explicitly grant such a right, depending instead on the data subject’s rights arising from Article 7 (respect for private and family life) and Article 8 (protection of personal data) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union .
The General Data Protection Regulation consider the right to be forgot, but between the draft and the final version it was change to the right to request erasure for specific reason.
In 1998 the Spanish newspaper La Vanguard published two announcements in its print edition. About the force sale of asset arising from social security debt. The ads were publish by the Spanish Ministry of Labor. And Social Affair and aim to attract as many bidder as possible. A version of the publication was later made available on the website network .
One of the property describe in the newspaper ads belong to Mario Cotija González, name in the ads. In November 2009 Cotija contact the newspaper and complain. That when his name was enter into the Google search engine, it led to.
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One of the property describe in the newspaper ads belonged to Mario Cotija González, named in the ads. In November 2009 Cotija contact the newspaper and complain. That when his name was enter into the Google search engine, it led to advertisement.
He asked for the information about him to be remove. Arguing that the foreclosure had take place year earlier and was no longer relevant. The newspaper responded that the deletion of his data was not appropriate. As it was order by the Spanish Ministry of Labor and Social Affair.
Cotija then contacted Google Spain asking in February 2010 to remove the links to the announcements. Google Spain forwarded the request to Google Inc. whose registered office is in California. United States finding it to be the responsible authority. Cotija then filed a complaint with the Spanish Data Protection Agency ( Egencia Española de Protection de Dato’s , AEPD).
Requesting both the removal of the data from the newspaper. And the removal of links to the data from Google Spain or Google Inc. On July 30, 2010 the director of the AEPD rejected the complaint against the newspaper. But upheld the complaint against Google Spain and Google Inc. against. Calling on them to remove the complained links and make access to the data impossible.
Subsequently, Google Spain and Google Inc. judgment after separate proceedings before the Audience Nacional (the highest court in Spain). Their complaint was based on:
- Google Inc. was not cover by EU Directive 95/46/EC ( Data Protection Directive ) and its subsidiary Google Spain was not responsible for the search engine
- no personal data was process in the search function
- even at the time of process, neither Google Inc. nor Google Spain could be consider a data controller
- in any case, the data subject (Cotija) did not have the right to legally delete the published material
The Audience Nacional joined the lawsuits and suspended the proceedings until the European Court of Justice on questions of interpretation of the Data Protection Directive . These question were divide into three group. In essence, they touched on:
- With the territorial scope of the directive
- The legal status of the internet search engine service provider according to the directive. In particular the material scope of the directive and whether the search engine could be consider a data processor
- whether the directive establish a so-call right to be forgot
All these questions, which also raise important questions of the protection of fundamental rights, were new to the court. Since new legal issue were involve, it was thought that the court was looking for a lawyer.
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The written procedure followed by an oral hearing. Took place on 26 February 2013 where in addition to the parties. The governments of Austria, Greece, Italy, Spain and Poland and the European Commission presented their views. Attorney-at-law Nile Jääskinen present his opinion on June 25, 2013, then the judgment was made on May 13, 2014.
Advocate General’s opinion
The purpose of the lawyer’s opinion is to advise the court on new legal issues. It is not binding on the court. The trial lawyer was Nile Jääskinen from Finland. In his opinion, Jääskinen often referred to the fact that the Data Protection Directive preceded the era of Google (it date back to 1995 and replace by a new General Data Protection Regulation since May 2018 ).
First question the court advocate found that Google’s business model led Google Inc. And Google Spain within the scope of the directive. Regarding the other question concerning the substantive scope of the directive. The court lawyer found that Google cannot be consider a responsible processor. Google’s search activity include the process of personal data.
But Google does not thereby become the responsible processor of the responsible person. The content of the material if the processing is random. Indiscriminate and accidental. According to the Advocate General the directive meant that “the data. Controller is aware of the existence of a certain category. Of information corresponding to defined personal data and the data controller processes this data. With a certain intention related to its processing as personal data”.