Wall Street Journal
Google Inc. GOOG -0.04% won support from the European Union’s highest court Tuesday in the form of an opinion that the world’s top Web search engine can’t be forced by government agencies to remove links to personal material purely on privacy grounds, a decision that may open another front in a long battle over EU privacy laws.
Niilo Jaaskinen, an advocate general to the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, said search engines aren’t responsible for personal data that shows up in Web pages they process. He was responding to a Spanish court’s 2011 request for guidance in a case pitting Google against Spain’s data-protection authority, which had ordered the search company to remove some search results covering the names of five Spanish residents.
These five complaints are just a sampling of 180 instances in which the Spanish data-protection regulator has told California-based Google to remove access to personal information about individuals. They also represent a significant preview of the EU’s resolve to impose strict privacy guidelines on the likes of Google and social networks such as Facebook Inc.