EU's top court says, Google must remove search results that are "clearly inaccurate".
- According to Google, the information had been unavailable for a while.
- The right to be forgotten was enshrined by the CJEU in 2014.
- The right to privacy can be exercised without regard to the right to be forgotten.
According to Thursday's ruling by Europe's top court, Alphabet subsidiary Google must erase information from online search results if users can demonstrate it is false. In recent years, advocates of free speech and privacy rights have clashed over people's 'right to be forgotten' online, which refers to their capacity to erase their digital imprints from the internet.
In a case that was currently before the Court of Justice of the European Union, two executives from a group of investment companies asked Google to conceal search results linking their identities to particular publications that criticised the firm's investment strategy (CJEU).
In addition, they asked
Google to remove thumbnails of them from search results. The business denied the requests and said it wasn't sure the information in the publications was accurate. The CJEU was then asked by a German court for guidance on how to strike a balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to freedom of expression and information.
According to a decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union, 'the operator of a search engine shall de-reference data revealed in the linked content if the individual requesting de-referencing proves that such information is plainly false.'
Judges ruled that users only need to provide evidence that can be reasonably expected of them to find in order to prevent placing an excessive burden on users. Such proof need not originate from a court ruling against website publishers.
The disputed links and thumbnails, according to Google, are no longer accessible via image and online searches, and the relevant content has been unavailable for a considerable amount of time. The same court codified the right to be forgotten in 2014, stating that individuals could ask search engines like Google to remove inaccurate or unrelated content from web results that appeared when their names were searched.
The decision, which occurred before significant EU privacy laws that went into force in 2018, establishes that the right to be forgotten is not applicable where processing of personal data is necessary to exercise the right to information.