Article 29 Working Party on Google Spain: Latest

September 17, 2014

At its 97th Plenary of 16-17 September, the Article 29 Working Party discussed the follow-up to the Google Spain ruling of 13 May 2014. The data protection authorities say that they have agreed on a common ‘tool-box’ to ensure a coordinated approach to the handling of complaints resulting from search engines’ refusals to ‘de-list’ complainants from their results.

There was ‘an extensive exchange of views’ on the effects of the ruling. The Working Party’s press release indicates that data protection authorities in the EU have received complaints as a result of search engines’ refusals to de-list complainants from their results and states that this ‘illustrates that the ruling has addressed a genuine demand for data protection from data subjects’.

The Working Party goes on to say that it feels it is necessary to have ‘a coordinated and consistent approach in the handling of these complaints’ and it has therefore decided to put in place a network of dedicated contact persons in order to develop common case-handling criteria. The network of dedicated contact persons will provide the authorities with:

– a common record of decisions taken on complaints and

– a dashboard to help identify similar cases as well as new or more difficult cases.  

The press release states that the Working Party has also pursued its consultation process with the stakeholders: after meeting the search engines in July, they met with media companies at the margin of the WP29 Plenary. (Yet another definition of ‘stakeholders’ that excludes most people concerned: Ed.)

The Working Party states that it continues to analyse how search engines are complying with the ruling. It does not however reveal what data it may have available for such analysis. 

The Working Party’s press release opens with a statement that ‘[a]s data controllers, the search engines must meet their obligations with respect to the CJEU ruling acknowledging the right to be “de-listed”‘. That presumably reflects their main priority.

Readers will note that the Working Party is careful to refer to ‘the right to be de-listed’. One suspects that that horse has bolted but it is a sensible attempt to expel ‘the right to be forgotten’ nonetheless.