Search engines obliged to remove links to inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant, out of date, inaccurate and / or excessive personal data
The Google Spain decision has confirmed that search engine providers must take down or erase information and links if a data subject complains that the personal data therein is inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant, out of date, inaccurate and / or excessive. This applies irrespective of whether the personal data was lawfully posted on a third party website and / or the data subject has been prejudiced by the information or link. The only exemptions to this in the UK are the pre-existing exemptions under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) and if there is an overriding public interest in the personal data remaining in the public domain. The Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) has suggested that such overriding interest depends “on the nature of the information in question and its sensitivity for the individual’s private life. It will also depend on the interest in communicating the information to the public, an interest which may vary, according to the role played by the data subject in public life”.
The Google Spain decision is seen as a landmark case as it confirms that:
Google have published an online form for disgruntled data subjects to complete if they want links removed. This includes the data subject explaining how the URL “in search results is irrelevant, outdated or other inappropriate”. Google suggest there is a public interest in “information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials” remaining in the public domain.
The ICO has made clear that:
Nathaniel Lane is a Solicitor in Michelmores’ Technology, Media and Communications Team who has an ISEB Certificate in Data Protection. For further information on this matter or data protection generally, please contact Nathaniel at email@example.com or on 0207 788 6313.