Google must remove ‘manifestly inaccurate’ data, EU top court says

LUXEMBOURG, Dec 8 (Reuters) – Google Alphabet Unit (GOOGL.O) must remove data from online search results if users can prove it is inaccurate, Europe’s top court ruled on Thursday.

Free speech advocates and privacy advocates have clashed in recent years over people’s “right to be forgotten” online, meaning they should be able to erase their digital traces. of internet.

The case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) involved two executives of a group of investment companies who asked Google to remove search results linking their names to certain articles criticizing the model of group investment.

They also wanted Google to remove thumbnail photos of them from search results. The company denied the claims, saying it did not know whether the information in the articles was accurate or not.

A German court then asked the CJEU for advice on the balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to freedom of expression and information.

“The operator of a search engine must de-reference the information found in the referenced content where the person requesting the de-referencing proves that this information is manifestly inaccurate”, declared the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to Google’s offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

To avoid an undue burden on users, the judges said such evidence does not have to come from a court decision against website publishers and that users need only provide evidence that they can reasonably ask them to find.

Google said the links and thumbnails in question were no longer available through web search and image search and that the content had long been offline.

“Since 2014, we have worked hard to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe and to strike a reasonable balance between people’s rights of access to information and privacy,” a spokesperson said. .

In 2014, the same court enshrined the right to be forgotten, saying people could ask search engines like Google to remove inappropriate or irrelevant information from web results appearing in searches for their name.

The judgment preceded EU privacy rules which entered into force in 2018 and stipulate that the right to be forgotten is excluded where the processing of personal data is necessary for the exercise of the right to information.

The case is C-460/20 Google (De-referencing of allegedly inaccurate content).

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, additional reporting by Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris; edited by Barbara Lewis, Robert Birsel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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