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EU backs Spain over 'right to be forgotten'

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EU backs Spain over 'right to be forgotten'
Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP
13:07 CEST+02:00
Google must delete sensitive information about people from its search results if asked to do so, the European Union announced on Tuesday, a ruling that comes after Spain's data protection agency took on the tech giant over privacy.

Europeans now officially have the 'right to be forgotten' on the internet, after Tuesday's landmark decision.

The ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg comes after Spaniard Mario Casteja in 2010 complained to the Spanish Agency for Data Protection (AEPD) that his right to privacy had been infringed by Google links to a notice about his home being repossessed because he had failed to pay taxes.

He said the matter had been resolved, and that the notice should now be deleted.

Spain's data protection agency took action against Google, but the tech giant refused to delete the original notice saying the information was in the public interest and was available elsewhere.

After Tuesday's ruling, however, individuals will be able to ask search engines including Google, Yahoo and Bing to delete that 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.

Some 200 other cases are thought to be pending in Spain, while the ruling may lead to potentially millions of requests from users wishing to see search results deleted.  

"This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general," Google said in the wake of the ruling.

"We now need to take time to analyze the implications."

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