European court: Google must yield on personal info

By Toby Sterling

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, May 13 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Though Costeja's case will now be reviewed by the Spanish court, the European decision strongly implies such requests should be granted.

However, it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or in other countries.

Some limited forms of a "right to be forgotten" exist in the United States and elsewhere — including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Digital rights groups had mixed reactions to the court's decision.

"We need to take into account individuals' right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship," said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

"This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google's result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061 Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

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