Following a preliminary question received from a Spanish court, based on Article 267 of Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union for the Case C-131/12, between Google Spain SL and Google Inc. versus the Spanish Data Protection Authority, the Court of Justice of European Union finds that:
§ the activity of search engine (consisting in finding the information published or uploaded on the Internet by third parties, the automated indexing and their temporary storage, and, eventually, the disclosure to the Internet users in a specific order of preference) must be classified as personal data processing, based on Article 2 (b) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data;
§ the administrator of this search engine must be considered a “data controller”, within the meaning of Article 2 (d) of Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data;
§ when the controller of a search engine sets up in a Member State a branch designed for the promotion and sale of advertising space on the webpage of this search engine, whose activity in oriented towards the citizens of that Member State, then it is considered that the processing of personal data to be carried out within the activity of a data controller having the headquarters on the territory of that Member State within the meaning of Article 4 (1) (a) of Directive 95/46/EC;
§ for the observance of the rights provided by Article 12 (b) and Article 14 (1) (a) of Directive 95/46/EC (the right of intervention upon data), the data controller of a search engine is obliged to remove links to web pages that are published by third parties and contain information relating to a person from the results displayed following a search made on the basis of that person’s name;
§ Article 12 (b) and Article 14 (1) (a) of Directive 95/46/EC must be interpreted that the data controller of search engine must appraise especially whether the data subject has the right that the information in question relating to him personally should, at this point in time, no longer be linked to his name by a list of results that is displayed following a search made on the basis of his name. Whereas the data subject may, in view of his fundamental rights referred to in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of the Fundamental Rights of European Union (right to privacy, right to personal data protection) request that the information not to be made available to the general public through its inclusion in a list of results, those rights are prevailing not only over the economic interest of the search engine controller, but also over the legitimate interest of internet users potentially interested in having access to that information following a search made on the basis of name of that person. However, this would not be the case when it would appear that, for special reasons, such as the role played by that person in the public life, the interference in his fundamental rights is justified by the public interest in having access, through this inclusion, to that information.
CJEU Decision mention above is available at the following address:
Following this Decision, Google Inc. stated that it has made the necessary efforts in offering the data subject the possibility to submit a removal request of the personal data to Google, by accessing the following address:
In applying the CJEU ruling, Google Inc. stated that these requests will be assessed in order to ensure a balance between the privacy right of the individual and the right to information, bearing in mind the public interest in the information, such as professional malpractice, criminal convictions or public conduct of government official.
Legal and Communication Department