Google Inc. is not responsible for third-party information appearing in its search results and cannot be required to remove information from its index, according to a ruling handed down by the European Court of Justice which also negates the idea of the “right to be forgotten” online.
Jaaskinen also said rights to correction, erasure or blocking of data only apply if there is incomplete, inaccurate, libelous or criminal information.
Although the advocate general’s ruling is not binding on the ECJ, the court ruling usually follows his independent advice.
Jaaskinen’s opinion pertains to a Spanish case referred to the ECJ concerning an individual who requested Google Spain in 2010 to remove links to a newspaper article which mentions his name in connection with a property auction ordered by the Spanish government due to unpaid social security debts. The individual argued that the case dated back to 1998 and has since been resolved.
The Spanish Data Protection Agency upheld the complaint against Google but the search engine appealed the decision to the Spanish High Court, which referred the case to the ECJ.
With the rapid growth of information held online and the greater ease with which information can be searched, retrieved and shared, it has become increasingly harder for individuals to bury information about themselves that they would like to keep private.
The EU’s Data Protection Directive is being overhauled. One of the most contested issues is the proposal by EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding to include the right to be forgotten in the new charter.