Monday, June 30, 2014

Forget the Ruling... it Started with a Repossessed House

The Court of Justice of the European Union recently handed down a ruling that will force search engines to remove links containing personal data... if that data was published by third parties.

The ruling effectively forces Google and other search engines to remove certain results at the request of individuals, but not for corporations other other enterprises.

It started with a Spanish Newspaper Auction Notice
In 2010 a Spanish citizen lodged a complaint against a Spanish newspaper with the national Data Protection Agency and against Google Spain and Google Inc. The man complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy rights because the proceedings concerning him had been fully resolved for a number of years and hence the reference to these was entirely irrelevant. He requested, first, that the newspaper be required either to remove or alter the pages in question so that the personal data relating to him no longer appeared; and second, that Google Spain or Google Inc. be required to remove the personal data relating to him, so that it no longer appeared in the search results.

The case was referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union.

Here is the ruling verbiage
"An internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on web pages published by third parties...Thus, if, following a search made on the basis of a person's name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results," said the Court.

The proposed Data Protection Regulation is about much more than the right to be forgotten. It is a fundamental modernization of Europe’s data protection rules, establishing a number of new rights for citizens of which the right to be forgotten is only one (data portability, data breach notifications for instance), creating a single market for data in the European Union and streamlining cooperation between the Member States’ regulators.

This ruling does not remove the link or webpage from the internet, it only requires Google, Yahoo, Ask and Bing to remove a particular link from their search results page (SERP). So a search result containing the link may live on secondary and tertiary search engines... forever.

Source: "Right to Be Forgotten" for complete pamphlet:
Photo: Thinkstock

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