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Google must delete your data if you ask, orders judge in landmark case

An EU court has ruled that a person can request certain information to be removed from search engines if “the data appears to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”

Image: Virginia Mayo/AP/Press Association Images

PEOPLE LIVING IN the EU can request certain information to be removed from search engines if it’s no longer relevant, according to a new ruling.

The EU Court of Justice (ECJ) found that under certain conditions, a person can request certain information to be erased if “the data appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”

The “right to be forgotten”, which was proposed in 2012, would require search engines to edit some searches so they comply with the EU’s stance on the protection of personal data.

The case in question involved a Spanish national, Mario Costeja González, who lodged a complaint against a daily newspaper, La Vanduardia, and against Google Spain and Google about the top search results for his name.

The list of results displayed included links to two pages of La Vanguardia’s newspaper of January and March 1998, which contained an announcement for a real-estate auction organised following attachment proceeding for the recovery of social security debts owned by González.

He stated that the proceedings concerning him had been resolved for a number of  years and that references to them was no longer relevant.

While the complaint against La Vanguardia was rejected, because the information in question was lawfully published, the complaint against Google Spain and Google was upheld.

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.

A number of similar cases have been made in Spain who complainants want Google to delete their personal information from their search results. The company has said that forcing it to remove such data amounts to censorship.

Read: The Data Protection Commissioner is very worried about the new postcode system. Here’s why… >

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About the author:

Quinton O'Reilly

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