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Article

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Abstract

The 2014 decision of the European Court of Justice in Google Spain controversially held that the fair information practices set forth in European Union (EU) Directive 95/46/EC (Directive) require that Google remove from search results links to websites that contain true information. Google Spain held that the Directive gives persons a "right to be forgotten." At stake in Google Spain are values that involve both privacy and freedom of expression. Google Spain badly analyzes both. With regard to the latter, Google Spain fails to recognize that the circulation of texts of common interest among strangers makes possible the emergence of a "public" capable of forming the "public opinion" that is essential for democratic self-governance. As the rise of American newspapers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries demonstrates, the press underwrites the public sphere by creating a structure of communication both responsive to public curiosity and independent of the content of any particular news story. Google, even though it is not itself an author, sustains the contemporary virtual public sphere by creating an analogous structure of communication. With regard to privacy values, EU law, like the laws of many nations, recognizes two distinct forms of privacy. The first is data privacy, which is protected by the fair information practices contained in the Directive. These practices regulate the processing of personal information to ensure (among other things) that such information is used only for the specified purposes for which it has been legally gathered. Data privacy operates according to an instrumental logic, and it seeks to endow persons with "control" over their personal data. Data subjects need not demonstrate harm in order to establish violations of data privacy. The second form of privacy recognized by EU law is dignitary privacy.

Date of Authorship for this Version

2018

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