An important development over the battle of the ” right to be forgotten ” is highlighted in a report on the influential Inforrm blog.
The row centres round the European Court of Justice’s decision to allow people to get search engines to remove references to them in their past even if all the facts are true.
The decision arose after a Spanish worker wanted information deleted from searches showing he was connected to a property auction to pay off social security debts in 1997.
The court decided that his privacy was infringed by people being able search out such information and the decision immediately led to 41,000 people, including a paedophile and a former MP, asking search engines to do the same for them.
However as nearly all the major search engines are American, Google, the biggest search engine, decided to only remove it from its EU sites and people could still search the same information by logging on to an American site.
Now an EU working party wants this banned. It has ruled as Inforrm reports:
limiting de-listing to EU domains on the grounds that users tend to access search engines via their national domains cannot be considered a sufficient means to satisfactorily guarantee the rights of data subjects according to the ruling. In practice, this means that in any case de-listing should also be effective on all relevant domains, including .com”.
In other words, the Working Party has confirmed that …the attempt of Google to exempt its search engine at Google.com from the “delisting procedures”is misconceived.
To add to this the EU working party has said there will no requirement to tell the person who provided the information that this has happened – so bloggers and media groups will just suddenly discover that the article has disappeared in any searches – worse than just going behind a pay wall.
The groups does give data protection controllers much needed guidance on whether such listings should disappear – including information on whether the person is a public figure or a criminal. And it does not appear to extend to companies either.
However I am afraid I have little sympathy with any removal if the facts are true. I still see this as an attempt by people to cover up their past. It might be right if the information is a pack of lies but there are other ways to deal with this. It seems to me another restriction on freedom of information.