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EU court orders Google to remove outdated personal data from searches

14 May 2014, 16:29

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- The European Union's (EU) top court ruled on Tuesday in Luxembourg that Google operators must remove links to outdated personal data from their results pages.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 authorities.

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 relevant.

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 media.

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 information.’’

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.

-  NAN

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