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Google begins to comply with the right to be forgotten judgment

Internet giant Google is not waiting for enforcement and, in compliance with the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union, dated May 13th 2014, has set up a form so that users can exercise the so-called “right to be forgotten”.

In relation to Internet search engines, the “right to be forgotten” can be defined as the right of an individual to request that when you enter his or her name or personal information in a search engine, certain search results are removed or hidden.

It should be noted that the “right to be forgotten” can only be exercised if the individual complies with certain specific requirements, all included in the judgment of the CJEU, which states that this right can be exercised if the following requirements are satisfied: (i) the data collected and indexed by the search engine has become, over time, incompatible with the European Union Laws on data protection; (ii) the data has become unnecessary for the purposes for which they were collected or treated; (iii) The data is inadequate, irrelevant or excessive in relation to the aims pursued when it was collected.

The court case is a good example of when it is appropriate to exercise the “right to be forgotten”: the plaintiff demanded that when his name was “googled”, two links showed up on the search results page referring to a debt that the plaintiff had with the Social Security on 1998. The justification to request withdrawal of these links lies in the fact that the debt was paid 15 years ago, which means that the information was not only irrelevant to anyone but also harmful to the plaintiff, since these two links were the first search results.

This means that, despite the fact that the judgment recognizes de “right to be forgotten”, the individual that intends to exercise its right cannot simply ask for it, but must carry out an extensive presentation of evidence in order to meet the requirements set forth in the judgment.

It is also important to note that the form provided by Google may be referred to the Spanish Data Protection Agency and/or to the webmaster who manages the site hosting the content we wish to eliminate.

Google has taken a crucial step to comply with the EU rules on data protection, but the effectiveness of this system is yet to be seen. In any case, the applicant may always contact the Spanish Data Protection Agency or seek aid from the courts in case the application is rejected.

The request form can be found here.

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