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Google and the right to be forgotten

The European Court of Justice decided that the provider of an internet search engine in the case of personal data and subject that are published on websites by third parties is liable for the processing. Accordingly the provider of an internet search engine must cancel any links to web pages with sensible personal data from the lists of their search results.

This is exactly what the European Court of Justice decided with reference to a Spanish preliminary ruling. The Spanish data protection authority asked Google to cancel from the index links to Internet references. When entering the name, there was a link to the web page of a Spanish newspaper where was the announcement of the auctioning of a property that happened sixteen years ago? The Luxembourgian judges noted that a former factually correct processing of data does not, in the course of time, meet the regulations of the European Union ((Rili 95/46/EG; 24.10.1995). As a consequence links must be canceled when several years have passed since the publication of the information or the information is no longer of strategic importance to the purpose for which it might be processed.

In addition everyone can contact the provider of an internet search engine and make him cancel a link. As the provider of search engine gives an overview of the information available of every single person, we must strike a balance between the fundamental rights of the individuals and the general right to information. If the search engine operator does not remedy, it is up to the data protection commissioner to find a solution. In most cases the courts should decide if a link must be canceled or not. As a result only the listings used by the search engine might be canceled, whereas the content on the web page remains untouched.