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Tuesday, 22 December 2015

google_spain.jpgIn March 2015, the Centre for European Legal Studies organized an international one-day conference exploring the implications for the future of internet regulation of C-131/12 Google v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD), Mario Costeja González, the Court of Justice of the European Union's long awaited "right to be forgotten" case. This conference was made possible as a result of a kind donation from Hogan Lovells, with financial support also forthcoming from Cambridge Big Data, the University’s strategic research initiative in this area.

The Report of Conference Proceedings is now available as a PDF. The issues discussed at the conference are particularly topical in light of the recent agreement on the General Data Protection Regulation.

Google Spain ranks as the most high profile data protection decision ever, raising to a new level of public consciousness the key conflict which exists in this area between the protection of privacy and personal data and the free flow of information. Much of this debate has focused squarely on the direct implications of the judgment for search engines indexing public domain content. An entire session in the conference programme was similarly devoted to these burning issues.

At the same time, the conference also ranged more widely over the broader context and implications of the judgment. The conference therefore began with an exploration of the historic pathway to the Google Spain judgment both in terms of jurisprudence and in terms of regulatory action. Meanwhile, the first afternoon session explored the future of the general internet ecosystem post-Google Spain examining the position of a range of actors others than general search engines including online forums, rating websites and social networking sites. Finally, the last session considered the future of applicable law on the internet, considering both the current and future reach of EU data protection and the possibility that some internet actors with a main establishment within an EU Member State may now find themselves subject to regulatory oversight and the local data protection laws of other parts of the EU.

The conference brought together a wide range of participants including regulators, industry representatives, legal practitioners and scholars. Academic speakers comprised Professor Artemi Rallo Lombarte (Jaume I University and also former Spanish Data Protection Commissioner), Dr Orla Lynskey (LSE), Dr David Erdos and Julia Powles (University of Cambridge), Jef Ausloos and Brendan Van Alsenoy (KU Leuven). Speakers from outside academia consisted of two current Data Protection Commissioners (Willem Debeuckelaere from Belgium and Professor Dr Johannes Caspar from Hamburg), the UK Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith, the Senior Privacy Counsel at Google William Malcolm, three leading lawyers practising in this area (Hugh Tomlinson from Matrix Chambers, Christian Wiese Svanberg from Plesner and Eduardo Ustaran from Hogan Lovells) and the Controller of Information Policy at the BBC James Leaton Gray.

If you are seeking any further details about the Conference, please feel free to contact the Convenor Dr David Erdos.