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Google Must Comply With ‘Right to Be Forgotten’ Ruling

The ruling did not set clear guidelines for removing links


The European Union’s Court of Justice has ruled that Google (GOOG) can be compelled to remove links to webpages that contain personal information on individuals if they request it.

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Source: Flickr

Citing privacy laws in Europe, the court said that Google must review requests from individuals to delete links that reveal personal information, based on the merits of the requests. The ruling did not specify the criteria for evaluating the requests, but noted that search engines had to weight the interest of other internet users in obtaining the information against individual privacy, the Associated Press notes.

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If agreement over the removal of links cannot be negotiated between an individual and a search engine, local courts can become involved. The advisory ruling does not offer Google the option of an appeal. The ruling resulted from the request of Spain’s national court for advice in lawsuit by a man who found links to newspaper reports of a 1998 auction over unpaid debts when he Googled his name. He asked Google to delete the links, but Google said they had been published in a newspaper and declined.

European courts and regulators have favored a “right to be forgotten,” meaning the right for individuals to have personal data deleted over time. The concept is less popular in the U.S. A spokesperson for Google called the decision “disappointing.” Google says it is reviewing the ruling.

The court’s ruling could also affect Microsoft (MSFT) and Yahoo (YHOO), which also run search engines.

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