Right to be forgotten after Brexit
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What is the impact of Brexit on the right to be forgotten
Post Brexit, the right to be forgotten for UK citizens remains, although there are changes as to how Google and other search engine providers process the right to be forgotten requests.
The changes to the right to be forgotten post Brexit are mostly administrative. Prior to Brexit, applications to Google under the right to be forgotten had to be sent and had been processed by Google Ireland. This was changed after Brexit to the previous position and applications under the right to be forgotten are now being processed in California. Whilst this change might cause a slight delay in the handling of both, right to be forgotten applications and GDPR Notices for UK citizens, the most significant impact on the UK is in relation to legal jurisdictions and the enforcement of GDPR related legal proceedings.
If your right to be forgotten request was refused and your GDPR Notice was ignored by Google, you might then wish to file a claim against Google for the unlawful processing of your data. Whilst services of legal documents outside of the jurisdiction between EU countries is a fairly straightforward mater, there are different, and slightly more complex rules that apply to the service of legal documents to companies which are located in the USA.
Whilst the Google right to be forgotten application form appears straightforward and simple, this apparent simplicity is the reason why the majority of right to be forgotten requests are rejected. The ruling in the case of Mario Costeja Gonzalez, (the Google Spain case) a Spanish man who complained that a search of his name in Google brought up newspaper articles from 16 years ago, is a good point of reference and a reasonable starting point for right to be forgotten requests. However, this by no means guarantees that anyone who wants the mentioning of a historic event about him in search results removed, will be able to facilitate the removal of the information by completing a simple form.
In many cases, right to be forgotten requests require a strategic approach which might include eventually filing a claim for defamation or for breach of data against the search engine operators. Following brexit, the process of serving legal documents and enforcing legal orders against Google is slightly more complex and should be approached strategically.
Our clients who take legal advice on the delisting of internet search results from the internet search results, often approach the matter with either great confidence or with little hope. Either way, the handling of right to be forgotten requests for the UK, independently of the assessment of other requests from EU members, should hopefully, over time, result in a more consistent approach by Google to search results removal requests.
So far, Google has inconsistently agreed to delist webpages from its search engine upon our requests. In most cases Google agreed to the de-listing of webpages only after it was served with either a GDPR Notice or with court papers.
UK citizens can continue to make right to be forgotten applications post Brexit. Post Brexit, delisting information about UK citizens’ childhood mistakes, young age misdemeanours, spent criminal convictions, past suspension or disqualification as a director is likely to receive a more consistent consideration by Google and by other search engine providers. At the same time, processing legal documents and making applications to serve GDPR court papers outside the jurisdiction has become slightly more complex although the changes are slight and almost insignificant.