Privacy: EU court backs ‘right to be forgotten’: Google must amend results on request
The top European court has backed the “right to be forgotten” and said Google must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data from its results when a member of the public requests it.
The European judges made clear that in their view the EU data protection directive already established a “right to be forgotten”. This appears to pre-empt lengthy negotiations within the EU over a new data protection directive which could establish a limited “right to be forgotten”.
The judges said they had found that the inclusion of links in the Google results related to an individual who wanted them removed “on the grounds that he wishes the information appearing on those pages relating to him personally to be ‘forgotten’ after a certain time” was incompatible with the existing data protection law.
They said the data that had to be erased could “appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive … in the light of the time that had elapsed”. They added that even accurate data that had been lawfully published initially could “in the course of time become incompatible with the directive”.
In technical terms the ruling establishes that a search engine such as Google must be regarded as a “data controller” under the data protection laws in those EU countries where it establishes a branch to promote and sell advertising.
The ruling makes clear that a search engine such as Google has to take responsibility as a “data controller” for the content that it links to and may be required to purge its results even if the material was previously published legally. Data protection lawyers said the ruling meant that Google could no longer be regarded legally as a “neutral intermediary”