Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Applying a 1995 European Union (EU) Directive on the protection of personal data, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled yesterday that: "People have the right to request information be removed from search engine results if it appeared to be "inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant." As a result, companies like Google must remove such information about ordinary individuals from their search engines if so requested.
The case was filed by Spaniard Mario Costeja González who stated in his complaint that search results for his name on Google brought up links to Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia from 1998 including an announcement about old social security debts. Costeja Gonzalez argued that the issue had long been settled and that the information was now irrelevant. In response, the Spanish data protection agency ordered Google to remove the data from its index. When Google resisted, the matter went to the ECJ, which sided with the Spaniards.
The ruling may assist in the inclusion of an express "right to be forgotten" that has been proposed during the ongoing process of updating the EU's data protection rules. It is also likely to raise costs for companies like Google and Facebook, which are now responsible for identifying and removing information from their databases when requested.
For more information, see this ECJ Press Release.