A top court in European Union has ruled that ordinary people has the right to ask Google to remove some content from search results if they deem the information violates their privacy. Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) made the judgement after a Spanish citizen filed a complaint about an auction notice of his repossessed home appearing on Google’s search results infringes his privacy.
The court said people had the right to have information be removed if they are proved to be ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant’. The court ruled that search engines are required “to edit some searches to make them compliant with the European directive on the protection of personal data.”
In a press release, the EJC said “an internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on web pages published by third parties. Thus, 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.”
Google, on the other side, announced the ruling “disappointing” and their team will take some time to analyse the implications before taking the next step. The search giant claims that they only provide links to the information which is already on the internet and that the latest ruling has the potential to encourage censorship as anybody now can apply for the removal of any personal information which actually may well relate to public interest.
Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, has praised the decision of the court in a Facebook post saying that it is a clear victory for the protection of personal data in Europe. The European Commission proposed a law in 2012 that would give users the “right to be forgotten”.
She said “The data belongs to the individual, not to the company. And unless there is a good reason to retain this data, an individual should be empowered – by law ¬ to request erasure of this data.”