Derecho al olvido
The decision balances the right to privacy and data protection in European law against the public’s legitimate interest in accessing such information and does not oblige the information to be removed immediately upon request. It distinguishes between public figures and private individuals. The court emphasized that Internet search engines profile individuals in a way that is ubiquitous in modern society, which would previously have been possible only with the greatest difficulty.
Therefore, the data subject’s rights must generally exceed “as a rule not only the economic interest of the search engine operator, but also the interest of the public to find this information in a search related to the data subject’s name”, but this would not be the case if the role of the data subject in public life is such that “interference with his fundamental rights is justified by the wider public overriding interest to have by virtue of listing the results: access to the information in question “.
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Google then published an online form that EU citizens or EFTA citizens can use to request the removal of links from their search results if the linked data is “insufficient, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive in relation to the purposes for which it was processed”. On May 31, 2014, the service’s first day, Google received over 12,000 requests from people asking the company to remove certain links about them from its search results.
On June 19, 2015, Google announced that it would remove links to sites that contain indecent pornography (“revenge porn”) upon request. Commentators noted that this was not the same as implementing a “right to be forgotten” because the company already has policies in place regarding sensitive personal information such as social security numbers and credit card numbers. However, consumer protection group Consumer Watchdog then called on Google to extend the right to be forgotten to US users, filing a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission .
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- Inside the Caretaker , Julia Powles notes that this decision is an important platform for public debate as the European Commission considers reform of the directive in its upcoming plan for the General Data Protection Regulation .
- Guy Vassal-Adams Matrix Chambers characterizes the judgment as deeply damaging to the functioning of the Internet and a betrayal of Europe’s heritage in protecting freedom of expression: The Court’s reductionist approach is to require that all information disclosed must be specifically justified by the public interest. This approach is deeply flawed and largely stems from a failure to recognize the distinction between the private and public sectors. Most of what is published on the Internet does not have a specific public interest rationale and there is no specific public interest that can be associated with most biographical data about an individual. Facebook is an extremely valuable resource for free speech and information sharing, but most of the “banal or crazy” personal information posted there would not benefit from any specific public interest protections. The thing is, it shouldn’t be; the free circulation of information and ideas has an inherent value that the court has completely overlooked.—Guy Vassal-Adams, Matrix cambric
- German professor Niko Hurting wrote a summary of the concerns arising from this decision about the underestimation of the importance of freedom of information and communication and the dangers of abusing such a system; “Privacy by Default” encourages politicians, celebrities and other public figures to put their lawyers on the line when they find inconvenient information online. And since using a search engine like Google is essential to finding information, removing search engine results from search engine results provides a convenient and essential means of suppressing information.
- The Harvard Law Review (HLR) examines criticisms that the court got it wrong. HLR says these critics ignore that the court gave a reasonable interpretation of the text of the directive and the privacy values it embodies. Their failure to fully engage with these values and to recognize that the measure has broad support across the EU undermines their contribution to the political debate.
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