Luxembourg - The European Union's (EU) top court ruled on Tuesday in
Luxembourg that Google operators must remove links to outdated personal data
from their results pages.
The ruling was in a case brought by Google against Spanish data protection
The case relates to a Spanish man whose name was published in a newspaper in
1998 as the owner of a property to be auctioned because of debts.
Links to the Spanish man’s information continued to appear in Google
searches for his name.
The man had since 2009, attempted to have the online information erased,
arguing that the proceedings had concluded many years ago and were no longer
Spain's data protection agency supported him in 2010 and ordered Google to
remove the links.
Google appealed, and a Spanish court turned to the European Court of Justice
(ECJ) for advice.
The ECJ decided that under EU law, an Internet search engine operator is
responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal data which
appears on its web pages.
It said this also include materials that had already been published in the
The court also wrote that such information potentially concerned a vast
number of aspects of an individual’s private life.
"Internet users may thereby establish a more or less detailed profile of
the person searched,’’ it said.
"This interferes with a person's fundamental rights, people should be able
to request the removal of links to inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant
The court also said that in the light of its potential seriousness, such
interference could not be justified by merely the economic interest which the
operator of the engine put in the data processing.
It said a fair balance should be sought between an individual's right to
privacy and data protection, and the legitimate interest of Internet users in
having access to information.
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