EU top court adviser: Google can limit right to be forgotten

FILE - In this file photo dated Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, a man using a mobile phone walks past Google offices in New York, USA. The European Court of Justice’s advocate general released a preliminary opinion Thursday Jan 10, 2019, saying Google does not have to extend “right to be forgotten” rules to its search engines globally, in the case involving the U.S. tech giant and France’s data privacy regulator. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, FILE)

LONDON — An adviser to Europe's top court says Google doesn't have to extend "right to be forgotten" rules to its search engines globally.

The European Court of Justice's advocate general released a preliminary opinion Thursday in the case involving the U.S. tech company and France's data privacy regulator.

The case stems from the court's 2014 ruling that people have the right to control what appears when their name is searched online. That decision forced Google to delete links to outdated or embarrassing personal information that popped up in searches.

The two sides had sought clarification on a 2015 French decision ordering Google to remove results for all its search engines on request, and not just European country sites like www.google.fr .

Advocate General Maciej Szpunar's opinion said the court "should limit the scope of the de-referencing that search engine operators are required to carry out," and that it shouldn't have to do it for all domain names, according to a statement.

Opinions from the court's advocate general aren't binding but the court often follows them when it hands down its ruling, which is expected later.

The case highlighted the need to balance data privacy and protection concerns against the public's right to know. It also raised thorny questions about how to enforce differing legal jurisdictions when it comes to the borderless internet.

Google's senior privacy counsel, Peter Fleischer, said the company acknowledges that the right to privacy and public access to information "are important to people all around the world ... We've worked hard to ensure that the right to be forgotten is effective for Europeans, including using geolocation to ensure 99 percent effectiveness."

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