“The Right to be Forgotten” – Google in Legal Challenge

by: The Knowledge Group

March 05, 2018


A person—who, out of respect for reasons we’re about to discuss, shall remain nameless here—has sued Google in the High Court in London in a key case over the right to be forgotten.

It’s England’s first case on the matter. It’s been brought by a person convicted in the nineties of “conspiracy to account falsely” who wants Google to remove search result listings that show the old, now “spent” conviction, including on news sites.

Google decided to leave the results alone, citing the public interest—the public interest according to Google.

Forget About It, Google

In 2014, the EU Court of Justice established the right to be forgotten after hearing out a Spanish national who wanted personal financial history erased. Today, Google and similar companies doing business in Europe must accept requests from people wanting to remove search results about themselves that are “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” in relation to search purposes.

Google must accept requests from EU nationals and people in Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland.

Britain’s new General Data Protection Regulation will take effect in May. This sweeping legislation will make it easier for Britons to have their requests respected.

Google Deals With Deletion Requests

Google has declared that it’s received submissions targeting more than 2.43 million websites since 2014. These are typically news sites, directories, social media websites, and government webpages. Google has removed 43% of the items.

Frequent requesters are celebrities, officials, and politicians, as well as PR companies and law firms. They are not allowed to strip the underlying information from the web; they can only delete Google’s own search result items. But this is a big deal, because people are much less likely to find details that do not come up in search results.

Global Ramifications

The results people bring up outside Europe don’t change. Yet Google is also fighting France’s privacy regulators, who say Google should delete these results globally. A decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could come next year.

As the web is indeed worldwide, at least some form of standard for personal data retention will likely come about here. Reportedly, 61% of the U.S. populace would back consideration of a right to be forgotten.

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