Google loses landmark ‘right to be forgotten’ case

A businessman with a criminal past has won a key ‘right to be forgotten’ case against Google at the High Court. 

The “landmark” case is the first of its kind in England, says The Independent, and means that the search engine must remove historical articles about the man’s crimes. It describes the ruling as “a major blow to Google”.

Judge Mr Justice Mark Warby ruled in the businessman’s favour, but rejected a separate claim made by another man who had committed a more serious offence. Both men, who cannot be named, had been jailed for their actions.

The judge said that the successful businessman had shown remorse for his action, while the other man had continued to mislead the public.

“The right to be forgotten, or right to erasure, is a major concept in European law that allows people to request information about themselves to be removed from the internet when it is no longer relevant. The two businessmen claimed that it should apply to reports about their crimes, since their punishments had been served and they claimed they had now been rehabilitated,” explains The Independent.

According to The Guardian, “the decision… could have implications for other convicted criminals and those who want embarrassing stories about them erased from the web”.

Since 2014 Google had received requests to remove at least 2.4m links from search results, but “search engine firms can reject applications if they believe the public interest in accessing the information outweighs a right to privacy,” The Guardian says.

In a statement, Google said it would respect the judgements and added: “We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are in the public interest,”

At the heart of the precedent-setting disputes is a “balancing act between the right to a private life and the right to freedom of expression, both of which were established in the European Convention on Human Rights,” says Bloomberg

“Google is fighting court cases and privacy regulators across Europe over how far it should go to delete links.”

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