European court rules Google must remove "irrelevant" links in certain situations to comply with EU law that gives people a right to be "forgotten."
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The European Court of Justice has ruled that Google must delete "irrelevant" links from its search index under certain circumstances, to protect the EU's "right to be forgotten."
By upholding data protection rules that amount to a court-ordered burning of library index cards, the EU has ensured that the most complete record of public information online will remain in private hands, on the servers of national intelligence agencies like the NSA.
The EU court sided with a Spanish national, Mario Costeja González, who filed a 2010 complaint with Spain's data protection authority against a Spanish newspaper publisher and Google seeking the removal of two mentions of an old debt from articles in January and March 1998 and of Google search links to those articles.
The Spanish data agency ruled for the newspaper, saying the information had been lawfully published, but it ruled against Google, directing the company to remove the links from its search index. Google appealed and now Europe's high court has upheld the ruling.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding hailed the decision in a post on Facebook, stating that "The data belongs to the individual, not to the company." She also addressed criticism by pointing out that the right to be forgotten outlined in Article 17 is not absolute and that EU law protects the media and freedom of expression. "People will NOT be able to change or erase history," she wrote.
And yet Google's version of history henceforth will have some holes in it, unless Google finds a way around the law.
"This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general," said a Google spokesperson in an emailed statement. "We are very
Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio
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