The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has ordered Google to remove nine links to news articles about Europe’s ‘right to be forgotten’ law, which gives people the right to ask search engines to remove links to personal information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.”
Google had previously removed links to selected news articles about a right to be forgotten order that mentioned a 10-year old criminal case after the individual named in it filed a petition. This in turn resulted in several news outlets publishing articles about the links being removed, which included details of the original criminal offence and referenced the person involved by name.
On Wednesday, the ICO, the UK’s data watchdog, gave Google a 35-day deadline to remove nine links to these newer articles. Google has argued that they are an essential part of a recent news story and in the public interest. The company has the right to appeal to the General Regulatory Chamber against the notice.
"We understand that links being removed as a result of this court ruling is something that newspapers want to write about," says ICO deputy commissioner David Smith. "And we understand that people need to be able to find these stories through search engines like Google. But that does not need them to be revealed when searching on the original complainant’s name."
The right to be forgotten law came about after a Spanish man found that when he Googled his name in 2010, he got a link to a digitized 1998 newspaper article about an auction for his foreclosed home, for a debt that he had subsequently paid. His complaint eventually led to the ruling which said that EU residents can request search engines remove unflattering search results about them - so long as they are no longer in the public interest. The pages aren’t deleted, they just don’t appear in Google’s results when you do a search on a person’s name.
Google has declined to comment.