Why Qwant continues to apply your “Right to be Forgotten” worldwide

The digital world is a world with almost unlimited memory, equipped with connected brains capable of processing this immense mass of information collected.

18 September 2023

Everything we do publicly, everything that is published by ourselves or by others, is indeed as much collected data that feeds the algorithms.

This has enabled enormous technical progress and will undoubtedly serve humanity if we continue to care about the rights and interests of every human being. As a search engine, we have a heavy responsibility to ensure that everyone’s rights are well preserved.

Sometimes when people type your name into a search engine, they may get information that you prefer they didn’t see. The question is whether you have the right to have these results deleted.

In 2014, the Court of Justice of the European Union decided with the ” Google Spain” ruling that yes, you should have this right, as the information you would have preferred to hide is not recognized as being in the public interest. Since then, every European citizen and every user of a search engine established in Europe has the “Right to be forgotten”.

In 2016, the European Union adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and reaffirmed the existence of this “Right to be Forgotten”. Article 17 of the GDPR specifies that, under certain conditions, individuals have “the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning them without undue delay”.

But one question was whether this should have an impact on non-European internet users who search for you. What should prevail, between the right of the European individual to the protection of his personal data and the right of a non-European to access this information, since the “Right to be forgotten” is not applied in his country?

The French data protection authority, the CNIL, has decided that the “Right to be Forgotten” must be respected regardless of where the user searches. Google opposed the ruling, saying it should only apply to user searches located within the European Union, so that EU law doesn’t apply beyond its borders.

On 24 September, the European Court of Justice ruled that Google was right to limit the scope of “Right to be forgotten”. In doing so, the European citizen can request de-referencing in the European versions of the search engine but will not be able to impose that his right to be forgotten is also respected on all other versions of the search engine.

While we understand and respect the legal reasoning, Qwant today reaffirms its commitment to apply your “Right to be Forgotten” worldwide. We believe that we have a duty to fully respect your privacy, whether or not you are a Qwant user, and that this right should be respected regardless of your location or that of our users. If you are a European citizen, we believe that your right to privacy and, therefore, your right to be forgotten should accompany your online presence, regardless of the country from which you access Qwant. It is a right that is linked to your person.

When we receive your “Right to be Forgotten” request and believe that your request is legitimate because of your right to privacy, the results you ask us to hide will disappear whenever users search for you, regardless of the geographic region to which they refer.

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