Key facts of the case:
Mr Y accused Google of exploiting personal data concerning him without his consent, by means of the search engine. He took the case to court, on the basis of Article 809 of the Code of Civil Procedure, in order to obtain the cessation of these actions which, according to him, were manifestly unlawful. The judge directed Google to remove the links arising from searches which lead to any URL identified and reported by Mr Y as invasive of his privacy, within seven days of receipt of this report.
Key legal question raised by the Court:
Does a general court injunction to remove links leading to any URL identified and reported by the applicant as violating his privacy violate a legitimate interest of users potentially interested in having access to it?
Outcome of the case:
The Court of Cassation quashed and annulled the order of the Court of Appeal, because it issued a general order and without proceeding, as was incumbent on it, with balancing the right to respect for privacy and the protection of personal data, and the right to access to information.
The Court explained that Articles 12 (b) and 14 (1) (a) of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as meaning that the operator of a search engine is obliged to delete the list of results, displayed as a result of a search made for the name of a person, links to web pages published by third parties and containing information relating to that person, also in the event that the name or this information is not deleted previously or simultaneously from these web pages, and this, if such is the case, even when their publication in itself on said pages is lawful. Requests under these Articles may be made directly by the data subject to the data controller, who shall then duly examine the merits thereof and, where appropriate, terminate the processing of the data in question. Where the data controller does not respond to such requests, the data subject may bring the matter before the judicial authority for it to carry out the necessary checks and order that the person responsible take specific measures accordingly.
To the extent that the deletion of links from the list of results could, depending on the information in question, have repercussions on the legitimate interest of internet users potentially interested in having access to it, it is necessary to seek on the occasion of this review or these checks, a fair balance, in particular, between this interest and the rights to privacy and the protection of personal data guaranteed by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter .
It follows from that same decision that the applications pursuant to Article 12 (b) and Article 14 (1) (a) of Directive 95/46 may be directly addressed by the person concerned to the data controller, who must then duly examine the merits of these and, where appropriate, terminate the processing of the data in question (paragraph 77); whereas, where the controller does not respond to such requests, the data subject may refer the matter to the judicial authority for it to carry out the appropriate verification and order that the person responsible take specific measures accordingly (ibid.); that to the extent that the deletion of links from the list of results could, depending on the information in question, have repercussions on the legitimate interest of internet users potentially interested in having access to it, it is necessary to during the examination or checks, to strike a fair balance, in particular, between the interests and the rights of respect for private life and the protection of personal data guaranteed by Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter (point 81)
Qu'il résulte de cette même décision que les demandes au titre des articles 12, sous b), et 14, premier alinéa, sous a), de la directive 95/46 peuvent être directement adressées par la personne concernée au responsable du traitement, qui doit alors dûment examiner le bien-fondé de celles-ci et, le cas échéant, mettre fin au traitement des données en cause (point 77) ; que, lorsque le responsable du traitement ne donne pas suite à ces demandes, la personne concernée peut saisir l'autorité judiciaire pour que celle-ci effectue les vérifications nécessaires et ordonne à ce responsable des mesures précises en conséquence (ibid.) ; que, dans la mesure où la suppression de liens de la liste de résultats pourrait, en fonction de l'information en cause, avoir des répercussions sur l'intérêt légitime des internautes potentiellement intéressés à avoir accès à celle-ci, il y a lieu de rechercher, à l'occasion de cet examen ou de ces vérifications, un juste équilibre, notamment, entre cet intérêt et les droits au respect de la vie privée et à la protection des données à caractère personnel garantis par les articles 7 et 8 de la Charte (point 81).