(14 May 2014) The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled in favour of a Spanish gentlemen who objected to articles containing his name being retrieved by search engines. He requested the owner of the web pages and Google to have the web pages removed or altered.
The detailed but easy to read Court of Justice press release no. 70/14 describes his predicament and the views of the Court.
‘An internet search engine operator is responsible for the processing that it carries out of personal data which appear on web pages published by third parties. Thus, if, following a search made on the basis of a person’s name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results.’
Mr. Mario Costeja González, complained about pages dated 1998 that described repossession of his real estate because of debt. His point was that proceedings concerning him had been fully resolved for a number of years and that reference to them was now entirely irrelevant.
This ruling has generated much chatter and debate. An article in The Sydney Morning Herald of 14 May by Ben Grubb and Foo Yun Chee discusses the European judgement in the context of Australia. They write, ‘Dr Gordon Hughes, a Sydney partner with law firm Ashurst, said the right to be forgotten was a “huge debate” lying ahead of Australia.’ Read their article here.