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EU court adviser backs Google in 'right to be forgotten' case

An adviser at the Court of Justice of the European Union said Alphabet Inc.'s Google LLC and other online search engines should limit the geographical scope of the "right to be forgotten" privacy rule to internet searches made within the European Union.

The advice from the court's top legal adviser follows a yearslong battle between the internet giant and France's data privacy regulator, the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés, or CNIL, which has led efforts to expand the remit of the privacy order to include searches made outside the EU's 28 member states.

"The fundamental right to be forgotten must be balanced against other fundamental rights, such as the right to data protection and the right to privacy, as well as the legitimate public interest in accessing the information sought," Court of Justice Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said in a Jan. 10 statement.

Formalized in 2014, the law allows EU citizens to request the removal of links to search results if they are considered outdated or irrelevant. Google is only required to delete results that appear on its own pages and has no control over information on external websites.

In 2016, Google filed an appeal against a CNIL order the prior year requesting the internet giant to remove certain web search results worldwide, following a €100,000 fine for failing to extend the right to be forgotten rule globally.

While the adviser's opinion is not legally binding in the EU's Court of Justice, it will be considered ahead of a formal ruling at a later date.

A decision could be reached in as little two to four months, a Court of Justice spokesperson told S&P Global Market Intelligence.