Google must remove data from search results if users can prove that information contains apparent inaccuracies. The Court of Justice of the European Union has determined this.
The case before the highest European court concerned two directors of a group of investment companies who had requested Google to remove search results. In it, their name was linked to specific articles criticizing the group’s investment model. They also wanted Google to remove thumbnail photos of them from the search results. Google declined the requests, saying it did not know whether or not the information in the articles was accurate.
A German judge then requested advice from the Court of Justice of the EU on the balance between the right to be elapsed and the right to freedom of appearance and information. It ruled that the operator of a search engine “must remove the content of referenced search results if the person requesting the removal can demonstrate that this information is manifestly incorrect,” the ruling said.
In order not to burden users too heavily, according to the judges, such evidence does not have to come from a court ruling against website publishers. Also, users are only required to provide such evidence as they may reasonably require.
Google said the links and thumbnails in question were no longer available through web and image searches, and the content had been offline for a long time. “Since 2014, we have worked hard to contrivance the right to be forgotten in Europe and strike a reasonable balance between people’s right to access information and privacy,” said a spokesperson.
The Court of Justice of the EU enshrined the right to be forgotten in 2014. As a result, people can ask search engines like Google to remove inappropriate or irrelevant information from search results for their name. In 2018, new privacy rules came into force in the EU. It states that the right to be forgotten is excluded when personal data processing is essential for exercising the right to information.