The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg handed down the judgement today, basically making Google responsible for that list of search results.
Google had claimed that it was just the conduit of information, basically, and that it was simply offering links to information that’s already free and available on the Internet, reports USA Today.
Now, if someone in Europe asks Google to do so, the company will have to change links if they’re proven to be outdated or if they contain irrelevant information.
“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,” the judges said in their ruling.
“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,” the judges added.
This case came about when a man in Spain argued that the Google search results for his name brought up details of an auction of his repossessed home that infringed on his privacy rights.
Google doesn’t sound pleased by this turn of events, which is likely to be lauded by some privacy advocates and disparaged by those seeking freedom of information on the Internet.
“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” Google said in a statement. “We now need to take time to analyze the implications.”
Europe’s top court tells Google to ‘forget’ [USA Today]