According to Bloomberg Business Week, the European Union’s top court has ruled that individuals can insist on the removal of links and other information in search results that could threaten their privacy rights. People “have a right to be forgotten,” the court has said. Europeans may soon be able to delete those embarrassing tidbits of personal information that turns up whenever someone does a search of your name.
According to a report by Bloomberg News, the court case involved a Spanish man who wanted Google to delete a 16-year-old newspaper article about his house being auctioned off due to his failure to pay taxes. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called it “a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans,” while Google, reported to Bloomberg News that the decision is “disappointing.”
Emma Carr, the acting director of the British group Big Brother Watch said that, “The principle that you have a right to be forgotten is a laudable one, but it was never intended to be a way for people to rewrite history.” According to Bloomberg Business Week Carr said that, “Search engines do not host information, and trying to get them to censor legal content from their results is the wrong approach.”
Peter Church, an attorney with the Linklaters law firm in London warns that compliance with the ruling could be a nightmare. Search engine owners “may receive thousands, if not more, requests from individuals asking that their information be removed.” But they would have to weigh each person’s case carefully, Church says, because in some instances “there will be a clear public interest in keeping the information” visible online, such as when public officials are involved. It has also been reported by Bloomberg Business Week, that France and Spain also have fined Google over certain privacy issues.
Image credit: www.veooz.com