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European Court Orders Google To Remove Irrelevant Links

European Court Orders Google To Remove Irrelevant Links

14-05-2014Tags: Marketing Insight

The European Union Court of Justice has ruled that Google would be required to remove irrelevant links upon request from individuals.

The ruling outlined that Google is responsible for the processing of personal information that appears on websites published by third parties.

The case began in 2009, when a Spanish lawyer objected that entering his name into Google led to legal notices dating back to 1998 that detailed his accumulated debts and the forced auction of his repossessed property. The lawyer argued that the debt issues had been resolved and, therefore, that the personal information was no longer relevant. The legal notices were published by an online version of Spanish newspaper, La Vanguardia, who were ordered to remove the personal information by Spanish authorities. However, when La Vanguardia refused to remove the notices, the lawyer complained to the Spanish Data Protection Agency that his rights to the protection of his personal data were being violated.

"Disappointing"

Following the ruling, a Google spokesperson said the outcome was "disappointing" and that they would "now need to take time to analyse the implications." It has been argued that the search engine does not control the distribution of personal information that appears on third party websites, it only offers links to the information freely available on the internet. Therefore, why should Google be responsible for deleting the outdated links if the original data remains active?

Right to Be Forgotten

This relates the European Commission's proposal for the right to be forgotten in January 2012. Following the recent ruling, the EU Court outlined that individuals have the right - under certain conditions - to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them. The EU Court said this would apply where the personal information is "inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive." In order to comply with the ruling, Google created a Right to Be Forgotten (RTBF) online form; which received over 12,000 submissions within the first 24 hours.

For more information about the EU Court's recent ruling can be found on the European Commission website and Google's Help pages.

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