cybersecurity european union

EU’s Privacy Law Has Major Cybersecurity Implications in US

landmark privacy and cybersecurity cases felt around the world

The European Court of Justice recently presided over two privacy cases that could significantly impact Americans' cybersecurity.

At the heart of each case, is the EU’s “Right to be Forgotten” law. The court ruled in May 2014, that EU citizens have the right to request that search engines remove links to pages deemed private, even if the pages themselves remain on the internet.

Even though the United States has no such law, it’s now clear that this ruling from across the pond will have more than ripple effects on Americans’ cybersecurity.

In an article written by Joseph Steinberg published on Forbes.com, the two landmark verdicts were outlined. One involved Facebook, and the other a Google subsidiary:

“In September of 2014, French attorney Dan Shefet won a judgement against Google France for the actions of Google, Inc. – the firm’s US-based parent. Shefet claimed that: 1. After he received a court order that Google, Inc. and Google France remove offensive references to his client covered under the “Right To Be Forgotten” from search results displayed in France, only the French subsidiary complied, but the American parent had not done so, and 2. Because Google France was “inextricably linked” to its parent – meaning that it could not operate its business without its parent – the local subsidiary was liable for the actions of its parent as set forth in the European Court of Justice’s original Right To Be Forgotten ruling. The judges of the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance agreed, and instituted a fine of 1,000 Euros per day to be paid by Google France until Google, Inc. would comply with the original court order. Interestingly, the wording of their judgment did not seem to limit the scope of the concept of “inextricably linked” solely to cases regarding data privacy.”

The implications of this law are clear. However, the efficacy of the legislation is being debating here at home. Some believe an adoption of the EU law is necessary, while others believe it is a bad solution to a serious problem. In a vibrant debate hosted by NPR, the “Right to be Forgotten” takes center stage and agreements are heard from both sides.

Listen here for the complete debate

From the NPR article,

FOR THE MOTION

Paul F. Nemitz is the director for fundamental rights and union citizenship of the European Commission's Directorate General for Justice and Consumers.

Eric Posner is the Kirkland and Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago.

AGAINST THE MOTION

Andrew McLaughlin is currently CEO of Digg and Instapaper and a partner at Betaworks.

Jonathan Zittrain is the George Bemis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, co-founder and faculty director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society and professor of computer science at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Read the full NPR debate summary