Key facts of the case:
Results (sanctions) and key consequences of the case:
The Court holds, by fifteen votes to two, that there has been no violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
56. In a judgment of 13 May 2014 (Case C-131/12 Google Spain and Google) the CJEU was called on to interpret 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. It found that the activity of an Internet search engine was to be classified as “processing of personal data” within the meaning of Directive 95/46/EC and held that such processing of personal data, carried out by the operator of a search engine, was liable to affect significantly the fundamental rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data (guaranteed under Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union) when the search by means of that engine was carried out on the basis of an individual’s name, since that processing enabled any Internet user to obtain through the list of results a structured overview of the information relating to that individual that could be found on the Internet and thereby to establish a more or less detailed profile of him or her. Furthermore, the effect of the interference with the rights of the data subject was heightened on account of the important role played by the Internet and search engines in modern society, which rendered the information contained in such a list of results ubiquitous. In the light of the potential seriousness of that interference, it could not be justified merely by the economic interest of the operator. The CJEU considered that a fair balance should be sought between the legitimate interest of Internet users in having access to the information and the data subject’s fundamental rights. The data subject’s fundamental rights, as a general rule, overrode the interest of Internet users, but that balance might, however, depend on the nature of the information in question and its sensitivity for the data subject’s private life and on the interest of the public in having that information. The CJEU held that in certain cases the operator of a search engine was obliged to remove from the list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of a person’s name links to web pages, published by third parties and containing information relating to that person, even when its publication in itself on the web pages in question was lawful. That was so in particular where the data appeared to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they had been processed and in the light of the time that had elapsed.