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Top German Court Rules on Multiple Right to Be Forgotten Disputes

GDR

02 Dec 2019
Reprinted with permission.

GDR spoke to Lokke Moerel about Germany’s top constitutional court judgments in two right to be forgotten cases, one finding in favor of Google and the other against the magazine Der Spiegel.

In the Google case, where the plaintiff argued to force Google to delist search results, the court ruled that publication by a search engine does not fall within media privilege, and that Google therefore cannot rely on the principle of freedom of expression. “The court balanced the plaintiff’s right to privacy with Google’s right to conduct business, and not freedom of expression,” Lokke said, noting that if the search engine had been prevented from linking to the transcript, this would also affect the freedom of expression of the publisher, as well as the right of the public to receive such information.

Lokke also noted that the ruling appears to contradict the European Court of Justice’s earlier judgments on the right to be forgotten in the landmark Google Spain and Google global delisting cases. “The [constitutional court] contradicts the Google Spain decision in which the ECJ held that privacy rights should in principle take precedence over the information interests of internet users,” Lokke said, adding that in contrast, the German constitutional court does not assume that privacy rights take precedence, but emphasizes the equal status of other fundamental rights.

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