ICO: EU Google judgement does not provide an absolute right to have links removed
The ICO welcomes the recent decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union on Google as it confirms that Google is acting as a data controller within the terms of the European Union Data Protection Directive when operating the search engine service, and that Spanish data protection law applies.
However, the ICO says that it is too early to take action; companies will need some time to work out how they are going to handle this issue.
“We won’t be ruling on any complaints until the search providers have had a reasonable time to put their systems in place and start considering requests. After that, we’ll be focusing on concerns linked to clear evidence of damage and distress to individuals.”
ICO’s Deputy Commissioner and Director of Data Protection, David Smith, writes: “There are some who are seeking to draw out much wider implications of the judgment for freedom of expression in general. It is important to keep the implications in proportion and recognise that there is no absolute right to have links removed. Also, the original publication and the search engine are considered separately: the public record of a newspaper may not be deleted even if the link to it from a search website is removed.”
“We believe the judgment provides space to strike a balance between the right to privacy and the public’s right to know, recognising the role search engines play in facilitating access to information in today’s society. Guidance will be needed from data protection authorities to ensure search providers take the right approach”.
The EU Article 29 Data Protection Working Party will be discussing the issue in the near future.