In May 2014, in a landmark case brought by a Spanish citizen, the European Court of Justice ruled that individuals – under certain conditions – have the right to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them.
This “right to be forgotten” applies where the information is “inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” and to all European Union citizens.
Since the ruling, leading search engine Google – which was involved in the Spanish case – has launched a service that allows people to make such a request.
Google’s guidance on this service says that in considering requests, it will “balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s interest to know and the right to distribute information. For example, we may decline to remove certain information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.”
At Howe+Co, we can provide expert advice on whether the information you would like to be removed is likely to comply with Google’s criteria, or those of other search engines, and how to strengthen a right to be forgotten request.
If a request is refused, individuals can take their case to the relevant data protection authority – the Information Commissioner in the UK – and we can advise and assist in these circumstances.
Data protection authorities from across Europe are now working on common guidelines for implementing the right to be forgotten, expected to be issued in the autumn, which are expected to give more detailed information on issues including the criteria to be applied when considering removal requests and the appeals process if requests are rejected. For more information on our right to be forgotten services, please contact us.