Google Posts Request Form in EU to Remove Personal Info Online - Page 2

The problem with the EU ruling, he said, is that it allows people to "change history" in search, which is something he equates to tyranny.

"And Europeans [who underwent the tyranny of leaders like Hitler and Stalin] should have enough memory to realize that," said Jarvis. "Trying to say that someone has the right to forget ignores the right of the other party to speak and to remember and to know" what actually happened in the past, he said. "History is still history. The notion of rewriting history is offensive to an enlightened culture built on knowledge."

By requiring Google and other search providers to maintain processes to remove information at people's whims "sets a horrendous precedent on the reliability of the Web," said Jarvis. "That undercuts the very foundation of the Web. If we are going to be forced not to link to things or to be held liable for it, that's not going to let the Web exist."

Jarvis said this since the EU court decision is not appealable, there is likely little that Google can do right now, but legislation could ultimately be passed to replace the flawed policy. "I would imagine that other court cases could come along" to challenge it in the other direction, he said. "Someone else could sue to fight the removal of information because their freedom of speech could be affected. This is abhorrent to a modern notion that controlling knowledge is just a dangerous thing."

The recent EU court decision means that Google and other search companies can be required, under some conditions, to remove outdated and harmful information about individuals that can turn up in online searches. The ruling is a stunning reversal of an earlier opinion by an adviser to the Court of Justice of the European Union in June 2013 that said Google should not have to delete information from its search results when old information is pulled up that is damaging to individuals.

In its May 13 ruling on the matter, the full Court said that Internet search engine operators are, in fact, responsible for the processing of personal data that appears on Web pages published by third parties and must remove or correct the information in some cases. "Thus, if, following a search made on the basis of a person's name, the list of results displays a link to a Web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results," the decision states.

In the 2013 case, a man in Spain had argued that Google searches of his name had uncovered a then-15-year-old announcement in a newspaper describing how a property he owned was up for auction because of nonpayment of Social Security, the court stated. The man wanted Google to remove the old information, which was damaging his reputation, according to the earlier case. The Spanish court originally accepted the man's argument and ordered Google to remove the information from its search results. Google then appealed that decision and received the favorable opinion from the Court of Justice adviser, who ruled that the original Spanish court decision was wrong.

The latest Court of Justice action, however, trumps the original opinion by the court's adviser. That means that Google and other search engine operators might have to make changes in such cases in the future and comply with some requests by individuals to remove old, outdated personal information.