Google must remove data from search results if users can demonstrate that information contains obvious inaccuracies. This has been decided by the Court of justice of the European Union.
The case before the highest European Court involved two directors of a group of investment companies who had asked Google to remove search results. In it, their name was linked to certain articles criticizing the group’s investment model. They also wanted Google to remove thumbnails of them from search results. Google declined the requests, saying it did not know whether or not the information in the articles was accurate.
A German judge asked the Court of Justice of the EU for an opinion on the balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to freedom of expression and information. That ruled that the operator of a search engine “must delete the content of search results referred to if the person requesting deletion can demonstrate that this information is manifestly incorrect,” according to the ruling.
Access to information
In order not to burden users too heavily, such evidence does not have to come from a court ruling against website publishers, according to the judges. Also, users only need to provide evidence that can reasonably be required of them.
Google said that the links and so-called thumbnails in question were no longer available via websearch and imagesearch and that the content had been offline for a long time. “Since 2014, we have worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe and strike a reasonable balance between people’s right to access information and privacy,” a spokesperson said.
The Court of Justice of the EU enshrined the right to be forgotten in 2014. As a result, people can ask search engines like Google to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from the search results by their name. In 2018, new privacy rules came into force in the EU. It states that the right to be forgotten is excluded when the processing of personal data is necessary for the exercise of the right to information.