A European court has ruled that Google must change some search results at the request of ordinary people when they show links to outdated, irrelevant information, in an important test of the so-called “right to be forgotten” on the web.
Under the new ruling, people can ask Google to delete sensitive information from its Internet search results.
The ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) came after a Spanish man complained to the Spanish data protection agency that an auction notice of his repossessed home 16 years ago on Google’s current search results infringed his privacy.
Google says forcing it to remove such data amounts to censorship. The search engine says it does not control data, it only offers links to information freely available on the internet.
In the ruling, the judges said: “If, following a search made on the basis of a person’s name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results. An Internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it car.”
The case underlines the battle between advocates of free expression and supporters of privacy rights, who say people should have the “right to be forgotten” meaning that they should be able to remove their digital traces from the Internet.
View the ruling here