(from BBC News) – A top EU court has ruled Google must amend some search results at the request of ordinary people in a test of the so-called “right to be forgotten.”
The European Union Court of Justice said links to “irrelevant” and outdated data should be erased on request.
The case was brought by a Spanish man, Mario Gonzalez, who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy. He said the matter had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him.
Google said the ruling was “disappointing.” “We now need to take time to analyze the implications,” a spokesperson added.
The search engine says it does not control data, it only offers links to information freely available on the internet.
It has previously said forcing it to remove data amounts to censorship.
The EU Justice Commissioner, Viviane Reding, welcomed the court’s decision in a post on Facebook, saying it was a “clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans.”
The European Commission first proposed a law giving users the “right to be forgotten” in 2012. It would require search engines to edit some searches to make them compliant with the European directive on the protection of personal data.
In its judgement on Tuesday, the court in Luxembourg said people had the right to request information be removed if it appeared to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”
BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones says the ruling has huge consequences for anyone who publishes material online about individuals.
It appears to say that anyone who does not like an old story about them can ask for it to be wiped away, he adds.
The judgement stresses that the rights of the individual are paramount when it comes to their control over their personal data, although there is a public interest defense when it comes to people in public life.
Campaign group Index on Censorship condemned the decision, saying it “violates the fundamental principles of freedom of expression.”
“It allows individuals to complain to search engines about information they do not like with no legal oversight,” it said. “This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to [destroy] books.”
Mr. Gonzalez’s case is one of scores of similar cases in Spain whose complainants want Google to delete their personal information from their search results.
The court said people should address any request for data to be removed to the operator of the search engine, which must then examine its merits.
Reprinted here for educational purposes only. May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from the BBC. Visit the website at bbc .co.uk.
PLEASE NOTE: The last day of posting for the school year is June 13th.
“Answers” emails will end for the summer on May 23rd.
1. What is the European Union Court of Justice?
2. Describe the court’s ruling.
3. Who brought the case to the court? Why?
4. How does Google defend its position?
5. With whom do you agree on this case: privacy advocates who agree with the court’s ruling that “the rights of the individual are paramount when it comes to their control over their personal data, although there is a public interest defense when it comes to people in public life”
Freedom of information advocates like Index on Censorship who condemned the decision for “violating the fundamental principles of freedom of expression.” saying, “It allows individuals to complain to search engines about information they do not like with no legal oversight. This is akin to marching into a library and forcing it to [destroy] books.”
Explain your answer.
6. If Google and others were forced to do this in the U.S., how do you think that would affect the integrity of the internet? (Negative or positive?) Explain your answer.
From the BBC article above:
- In 2012, the European Commission published plans for a “right to be forgotten” law, allowing people to request that data about themselves to be deleted
- Online service providers would have to comply unless they had “legitimate” reason to do otherwise
- The plans are part of a wide-ranging overhaul of the commission’s 1995 Data Protection Directive
- UK’s Ministry of Justice claims that the law “raises unrealistic and unfair expectations”
- Some tech firms have expressed concern about the reach of the bill
Daily “Answers” emails are provided for Daily News Articles, Tuesday’s World Events and Friday’s News Quiz.