A European courtÂ backed the “right to be forgotten” today. It orderedÂ that Google must delete “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” data when asked.
The case was brought by our Spanish cousinsÂ and a man with big cojonesÂ Mario Costeja GonzÃ¡lez. Mr GonzalezÂ failed to secure the deletion of an auction notice of his repossessed home dating from 1998 on the website of a mass circulation newspaper in Catalonia.
As the Guardian reported “GonzÃ¡lez argued that the matter, in which his house had been auctioned to recover his social security debts, had been resolved and should no longer be linked to him whenever his name was searched on Google”.
The European courtÂ found thatÂ Google had to erase links to two pages on La Vanguardia’s website from the results that are produced when GonzÃ¡lez’s name is put into the search engine.
The judgesÂ ordered theirÂ removalÂ as Gonzalez wanted them removed “on the grounds that he wishes the information appearing on those pages relating to him personally to be ‘forgotten’ after a certain time” was incompatible with the existing data protection law.
They said the data that had to be erased could “appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive Â in the light of the time that had elapsed”. They added that even accurate data that had been lawfully published initially could “in the course of time become incompatible with the directive”.
Its going to open the floodgates to genuine complaints,Â as well as the fruit cakes and time wasters but its an important decision and one in which Google must now be seen as a Data Controller.
Google said: “This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general. We are very surprised that it differs so dramatically from the advocate general’s opinion and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out. We now need to take time to analyse the implications.”
The UK government is against the Right to be Forgotten policy. The information commissioner has called the “right to be forgotten” proposals “a regime that no one will pay for”.Â In addition governmentÂ justice minister Simon Hughes said in March that “it is clearly better that we take time to get this right rather than rush into something that proves unworkable and costly”.