Data protection case law Court of Justice

Right to erasure

6 pending referrals

Referral C-64/22 (SCHUFA Holding, 2 Feb 2022)


Referral C-60/22 (Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 1 Feb 2022)


Referral C-26/22 (SCHUFA Holding, 11 Jan 2022)


Referral C-552/21 (SCHUFA Holding and Others, 7 Sep 2021)


Referral C-129/21 (Proximus, 2 Mar 2021)


Referral C-460/20 (Google, 24 Sep 2020)


5 preliminary rulings

Judgment of 24 Sep 2019, C-507/17 (Google)

On a proper construction of Article 12(b) and subparagraph (a) of the first paragraph of Article 14 of 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, and of Article 17(1) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data and repealing Directive 95/46 (General Data Protection Regulation), where a search engine operator grants a request for de-referencing pursuant to those provisions, that operator is not required to carry out that de-referencing on all versions of its search engine, but on the versions of that search engine corresponding to all the Member States, using, where necessary, measures which, while meeting the legal requirements, effectively prevent or, at the very least, seriously discourage an internet user conducting a search from one of the Member States on the basis of a data subject’s name from gaining access, via the list of results displayed following that search, to the links which are the subject of that request.

Judgment of 24 Sep 2019, C-136/17 (GC and Others)

The provisions of Article 8(1) and (5) of 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 must be interpreted as meaning that the prohibition or restrictions relating to the processing of special categories of personal data, mentioned in those provisions, apply also, subject to the exceptions provided for by the directive, to the operator of a search engine in the context of his responsibilities, powers and capabilities as the controller of the processing carried out in connection with the activity of the search engine, on the occasion of a verification performed by that operator, under the supervision of the competent national authorities, following a request by the data subject.

The provisions of Article 8(1) and (5) of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as meaning that the operator of a search engine is in principle required by those provisions, subject to the exceptions provided for by the directive, to accede to requests for de-referencing in relation to links to web pages containing personal data falling within the special categories referred to by those provisions.Article 8(2)(e) of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as meaning that, pursuant to that article, such an operator may refuse to accede to a request for de-referencing if he establishes that the links at issue lead to content comprising personal data falling within the special categories referred to in Article 8(1) but whose processing is covered by the exception in Article 8(2)(e) of the directive, provided that the processing satisfies all the other conditions of lawfulness laid down by the directive, and unless the data subject has the right under Article 14(a) of the directive to object to that processing on compelling legitimate grounds relating to his particular situation.The provisions of Directive 95/46 must be interpreted as meaning that, where the operator of a search engine has received a request for de-referencing relating to a link to a web page on which personal data falling within the special categories referred to in Article 8(1) or (5) of Directive 95/46 are published, the operator must, on the basis of all the relevant factors of the particular case and taking into account the seriousness of the interference with the data subject’s fundamental rights to privacy and protection of personal data laid down in Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, ascertain, having regard to the reasons of substantial public interest referred to in Article 8(4) of the directive and in compliance with the conditions laid down in that provision, whether the inclusion of that link in the list of results displayed following a search on the basis of the data subject’s name is strictly necessary for protecting the freedom of information of internet users potentially interested in accessing that web page by means of such a search, protected by Article 11 of the Charter.

Judgment of 9 Mar 2017, C-398/15 (Manni)

Article 6(1)(e), Article 12(b) and subparagraph (a) of the first paragraph of Article 14 of 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, read in conjunction with Article 3 of the First Council Directive 68/151/EEC of 9 March 1968 on co-ordination of safeguards which, for the protection of the interests of members and others, are required by Member States of companies within the meaning of the second paragraph of Article 58 of the Treaty, with a view to making such safeguards equivalent throughout the Community, as amended by Directive 2003/58/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 July 2003, must be interpreted as meaning that, as EU law currently stands, it is for the Member States to determine whether the natural persons referred to in Article 2(1)(d) and (j) of that directive may apply to the authority responsible for keeping, respectively, the central register, commercial register or companies register to determine, on the basis of a case-by-case assessment, if it is exceptionally justified, on compelling legitimate grounds relating to their particular situation, to limit, on the expiry of a sufficiently long period after the dissolution of the company concerned, access to personal data relating to them, entered in that register, to third parties who can demonstrate a specific interest in consulting that data.

Judgment of 13 May 2014, C-131/12 (Google Spain and Google)

Article 12(b) and subparagraph (a) of the first paragraph of Article 14 of Directive 95/46 are to be interpreted as meaning that, in order to comply with the rights laid down in those provisions and in so far as the conditions laid down by those provisions are in fact satisfied, the operator of a search engine is 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, also in a case where that name or information is not erased beforehand or simultaneously from those web pages, and even, as the case may be, when its publication in itself on those pages is lawful.

Article 12(b) and subparagraph (a) of the first paragraph of Article 14 of Directive 95/46 are to be interpreted as meaning that, when appraising the conditions for the application of those provisions, it should inter alia be examined whether the data subject has a right that the information in question relating to him personally should, at this point in time, no longer be linked to his name by a list of results displayed following a search made on the basis of his name, without it being necessary in order to find such a right that the inclusion of the information in question in that list causes prejudice to the data subject. As the data subject may, in the light of his fundamental rights under Articles 7 and 8 of the Charter, request that the information in question no longer be made available to the general public on account of its inclusion in such a list of results, those rights override, as a rule, not only the economic interest of the operator of the search engine but also the interest of the general public in having access to that information upon a search relating to the data subject’s name. However, that would not be the case if it appeared, for particular reasons, such as the role played by the data subject in public life, that the interference with his fundamental rights is justified by the preponderant interest of the general public in having, on account of its inclusion in the list of results, access to the information in question. 

Judgment of 7 May 2009, C-553/07 (Rijkeboer)

Article 12(a) of 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 requires Member States to ensure a right of access to information on the recipients or categories of recipient of personal data and on the content of the data disclosed not only in respect of the present but also in respect of the past. It is for Member States to fix a time-limit for storage of that information and to provide for access to that information which constitutes a fair balance between, on the one hand, the interest of the data subject in protecting his privacy, in particular by way of his rights to object and to bring legal proceedings and, on the other, the burden which the obligation to store that information represents for the controller.Rules limiting the storage of information on the recipients or categories of recipient of personal data and on the content of the data disclosed to a period of one year and correspondingly limiting access to that information, while basic data is stored for a much longer period, do not constitute a fair balance of the interest and obligation at issue, unless it can be shown that longer storage of that information would constitute an excessive burden on the controller. It is, however, for national courts to make the determinations necessary.


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