In a landmark ruling from the European Court of Justice, people have the right to ask Google to delete sensitive information from their search results.
The ruling, and the legal battle towards, has often been called “the right to be forgotten”. The ruling was made at the ECJ in Luxembourg but the case itself has roots in Spain, where one man made the point that auction details online regarding his repossessed home infringed on his privacy. His complaint was followed by 180 similar ones against Google, demanding data be deleted.
“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,” the judges 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,” they said.
EU Commissioner Viviane Reding welcomed the ruling, stating it was “a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans”.
“The ruling confirms the need to bring today’s data protection rules from the “digital stone age” into today’s modern computing world,” she said.
Google said that it was disappointed by the ECJ’s ruling. This will have far reaching effects on information published online about individuals.