The decision poses huge potential problems for internet companies. It can not be appealed.
“This judgment raises critical questions around freedom of expression and the role that internet companies should play in monitoring, interpreting and removing speech that might be illegal in any particular country,” Facebook said in a statement.
The social network said the decision could force internet companies to proactively monitor all content and then interpret if it is “equivalent” to content that has been found to be illegal by one nation’s court.
But Europe has fewer guarantees of free speech and much more restrictive laws related to privacy and a so-called “right to be forgotten,” established by the same European court in 2014, which allows EU citizens to request that links containing personal information about them be removed from search results.
In that case France’s privacy regulator had sought to extend the right beyond EU borders, a position opposed by media outlets, free speech advocates and tech companies.
The court acknowleged that other countries do not recognize the right to be forgotten, adding that protection of personal data is not an absolute right and must be balanced against other freedoms.