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The right to be forgotten - what is it?

View profile for Michelle Hayter
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The European Union Court of Justice in May of this year ruled that members of the public who are worried about their privacy on line can ask Google and other search engines to remove sensitive links from their search results. However, search engines can decline to remove personal data if they feel that the links in question are in the public interest.

The EU ruling is based on the 1995 Data Protection Directive which already covers the idea of the ‘right to be forgotten,’ i.e. a person can ask that their personal data is deleted when it is no longer necessary. The data would not (under the present guidelines) be deleted from the internet but would not appear in search results. A precedent was set by this decision whereby the EU now has the ability to enforce a ruling made in Europe to an American company. The European Commission’s Ms Reding said that this meant that US firms ‘can no longer hide behind their servers being based in California or anywhere else in the world. No matter where the physical server of a company processing data is located, non-European companies when offering services to European consumers must apply European rule.’

Dispute Resolution Solicitor Michelle Hayter says, “In October Google released data on the link-removal requests it has received in Europe following the ruling on the right to be forgotten. They said that Google had received close to 145,000 requests so far involving approximately 498,000 URL’s. Of that total they have removed only 42%, keeping 58% in its results on line.”

We have offices in the Christchurch, New Milton and the New Forest. Our Dispute Resolution team also cover Bournemouth and Poole. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Michelle or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.