Europe’s top court: people have right to ask Google, et al, to delete sensitive personal info


The case underlines the battle between advocates of free expression and supporters of privacy rights, who say people should have the “right to be forgotten” meaning that they should be able to remove their digital traces from the Internet.

The ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) came after a Spanish man complained to the Spanish data protection agency that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google’s search results infringed his privacy.

The case is one of 180 similar cases in Spain whose complainants want Google to delete their personal information from the Web. The company says forcing it to remove such data amounts to censorship.

Bottom line, the ruling says that if a search on your name results in a link to a site, you have the right to ask that that link be removed from the search results. Presumably, your request will be granted, now by law, if the link reveals personal info that you do not want made public.

This has big ramifications. Will Google, Yahoo, etc. appeal? I suspect they will. If this ruling stands, will it make its way to the US and other jurisdictions? Tough call.