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Canada Is a Step Closer to Affirming the “Right to Be Forgotten”

Client Updates / Oct 30, 2023

Written by Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

A majority opinion of the Federal Court of Appeals in Canada held that Google’s search engine is subject to the federal privacy law, a decision that could grant Canadians the “right to be forgotten”, namely, to request the delisting of search results.

In 2017, a complainant contacted the Canadian federal privacy commissioner, alleging that obsolete and incorrect online information about him had caused substantial harm. He sought the removal of this information. Google declined, explaining that its role was akin to intermediaries like libraries or convenience stores. They emphasized that failing to recognize such intermediaries would undermine journalistic exemptions.

Justice John Laskin, writing for the majority, explained that Google primarily aims to systematize and provide universal access to information. Google doesn’t exclusively process personal data for journalism. Google’s central objective, Laskin stressed, is neutral regarding content nature; its primary concern is presenting algorithmically relevant results to users. Thus, even if the results feature journalistic pieces, journalism cannot be Google’s sole function.

The decision paves the way for the Canadian privacy commissioner to consider the complaint and determine if Google should remove the complainant’s name from its search.

Click here to read the Canadian federal court’s decision against Google.


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