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European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Europe’s highest court Tuesday gave people the means to scrub their reputations online, issuing a landmark ruling that experts say could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.

Embracing what has come to be called “the right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said people should have some say over what information comes up when someone Googles them.

The decision was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in an age when just about everything – good or bad – leaves a permanent electronic trace. Others warned it could interfere with the celebrated free flow of information online and lead to censorship.

The ruling stemmed from a case out of Spain involving Google, but it applies to the entire 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate effect on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

In its ruling, which cannot be appealed, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information about themselves. The court provided little guidance on exactly how to make such judgments.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

But persuading websites to drop material can be difficult and time-consuming. The EU ruling would presumably make it easier by putting the burden on search engines.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company has also set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

But Google and other such companies rely heavily on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

What they have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

“There’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, and involved Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search of his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked Spain’s privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney specializing in privacy and technology issues, said a similar ruling in the U.S. is highly unlikely “because the First Amendment provides robust protections for the printing and reporting of publicly available information.”

“What instead it will do is fracture these global Internet companies into having different rules and modes of governance for different countries,” Rowland said.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Raphael Satter in London and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Europe’s highest court Tuesday gave people the means to scrub their reputations online, issuing a landmark ruling that experts say could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.

Embracing what has come to be called “the right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said people should have some say over what information comes up when someone Googles them.

The decision was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in an age when just about everything – good or bad – leaves a permanent electronic trace. Others warned it could interfere with the celebrated free flow of information online and lead to censorship.

The ruling stemmed from a case out of Spain involving Google, but it applies to the entire 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate effect on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

In its ruling, which cannot be appealed, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information about themselves. The court provided little guidance on exactly how to make such judgments.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

But persuading websites to drop material can be difficult and time-consuming. The EU ruling would presumably make it easier by putting the burden on search engines.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company has also set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

But Google and other such companies rely heavily on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

What they have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

“There’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, and involved Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search of his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked Spain’s privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney specializing in privacy and technology issues, said a similar ruling in the U.S. is highly unlikely “because the First Amendment provides robust protections for the printing and reporting of publicly available information.”

“What instead it will do is fracture these global Internet companies into having different rules and modes of governance for different countries,” Rowland said.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Raphael Satter in London and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Europe’s highest court Tuesday gave people the means to scrub their reputations online, issuing a landmark ruling that experts say could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.

Embracing what has come to be called “the right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said people should have some say over what information comes up when someone Googles them.

The decision was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in an age when just about everything – good or bad – leaves a permanent electronic trace. Others warned it could interfere with the celebrated free flow of information online and lead to censorship.

The ruling stemmed from a case out of Spain involving Google, but it applies to the entire 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate effect on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

In its ruling, which cannot be appealed, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information about themselves. The court provided little guidance on exactly how to make such judgments.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

But persuading websites to drop material can be difficult and time-consuming. The EU ruling would presumably make it easier by putting the burden on search engines.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company has also set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

But Google and other such companies rely heavily on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

What they have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

“There’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, and involved Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search of his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked Spain’s privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney specializing in privacy and technology issues, said a similar ruling in the U.S. is highly unlikely “because the First Amendment provides robust protections for the printing and reporting of publicly available information.”

“What instead it will do is fracture these global Internet companies into having different rules and modes of governance for different countries,” Rowland said.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Raphael Satter in London and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Europe’s highest court Tuesday gave people the means to scrub their reputations online, issuing a landmark ruling that experts say could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.

Embracing what has come to be called “the right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said people should have some say over what information comes up when someone Googles them.

The decision was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in an age when just about everything – good or bad – leaves a permanent electronic trace. Others warned it could interfere with the celebrated free flow of information online and lead to censorship.

The ruling stemmed from a case out of Spain involving Google, but it applies to the entire 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate effect on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

In its ruling, which cannot be appealed, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information about themselves. The court provided little guidance on exactly how to make such judgments.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

But persuading websites to drop material can be difficult and time-consuming. The EU ruling would presumably make it easier by putting the burden on search engines.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company has also set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

But Google and other such companies rely heavily on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

What they have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

“There’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, and involved Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search of his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked Spain’s privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney specializing in privacy and technology issues, said a similar ruling in the U.S. is highly unlikely “because the First Amendment provides robust protections for the printing and reporting of publicly available information.”

“What instead it will do is fracture these global Internet companies into having different rules and modes of governance for different countries,” Rowland said.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Raphael Satter in London and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Europe’s highest court Tuesday gave people the means to scrub their reputations online, issuing a landmark ruling that experts say could force Google and other search engines to delete references to old debts, long-ago arrests and other unflattering episodes.

Embracing what has come to be called “the right to be forgotten,” the Court of Justice of the European Union said people should have some say over what information comes up when someone Googles them.

The decision was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in an age when just about everything – good or bad – leaves a permanent electronic trace. Others warned it could interfere with the celebrated free flow of information online and lead to censorship.

The ruling stemmed from a case out of Spain involving Google, but it applies to the entire 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate effect on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

In its ruling, which cannot be appealed, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information about themselves. The court provided little guidance on exactly how to make such judgments.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

But persuading websites to drop material can be difficult and time-consuming. The EU ruling would presumably make it easier by putting the burden on search engines.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company has also set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

But Google and other such companies rely heavily on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

What they have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

“There’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, and involved Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search of his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked Spain’s privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney specializing in privacy and technology issues, said a similar ruling in the U.S. is highly unlikely “because the First Amendment provides robust protections for the printing and reporting of publicly available information.”

“What instead it will do is fracture these global Internet companies into having different rules and modes of governance for different countries,” Rowland said.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Raphael Satter in London and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Google and other search engines were thrust into an unwanted new role Tuesday – caretaker of people’s reputations – when Europe’s highest court ruled that individuals should have some say over what information comes up when their names are Googled.

The landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union will force search engines to decide when to censor computer users’ search results across the 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people.

The court decision – which cannot be appealed – was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in the Internet age. Others warned it could lead to online censorship.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate impact on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

In its ruling, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information about themselves.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company has also set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

What Google and other search engines have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

These companies rely on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

In the EU ruling, “there’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search of his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked Spain’s privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Lee Rowland, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney specializing in privacy and technology issues, said a similar ruling in the U.S. is highly unlikely “because the First Amendment provides robust protections for the printing and reporting of publicly available information.”

“What instead it will do is fracture these global Internet companies into having different rules and modes of governance for different countries,” Rowland said.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid, Raphael Satter in London and Eric Tucker in Washington contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Google and other search engines were thrust into an unwanted new role Tuesday – caretaker of people’s reputations – when Europe’s highest court ruled that individuals should have some say over what information pops up when their names are Googled.

The landmark ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union will force search engines to decide when to censor computer users’ search results across the 28-nation bloc of over 500 million people.

The decision – which cannot be appealed – was celebrated by some as a victory for privacy rights in the Internet age. Others warned it could lead to online censorship.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing.

It has no immediate impact on the way Google and other search engines display their results in the U.S. or other countries outside Europe.

But it could create logistical headaches for such companies by forcing them to make judgment calls about the fairness of information published on other websites.

In its ruling, the EU court said search engines must listen and sometimes comply when people ask for the removal of links to newspaper articles or other sites containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information.

Google Inc. has long maintained that people with such complaints should take it up with the websites that posted the material.

“This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general,” the Mountain View, California, company said in a statement.

Though Europe is one of Google’s biggest markets, the decision isn’t expected to have much effect on the company’s earnings. That’s because it has no direct bearing on the online ads that Google places alongside its search results.

Investors evidently weren’t worried. Google’s most widely traded class of stock gained $3.11 to close at $541.54 Tuesday.

It’s unclear exactly how the European court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Google, though, has dealt with similar situations in the past.

The company already censors some of its search results in several countries to comply with local laws. For instance, Google and other search engines are banned from displaying links to Nazi paraphernalia and certain hate speech in Germany and France.

The company also has set up a process so people can have their images blurred if they appear in Google’s street-level photographic maps.

What Google and other search engines have sought to avoid is acting as the arbiters of what kind of information to include in their searches.

These companies rely on formulas, or algorithms, and automated “crawlers” that roam the Internet and gather up results in response to search requests.

“There’s not much guidance for Google on how to figure out how and when they are supposed to comply with take-down requests – they just know they have to weigh the public interest,” said Joel Reidenberg, a Fordham University law professor now visiting Princeton University.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja said.

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It remains to be seen whether it will change the way Google and its rivals operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear exactly how the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, which could prove to be a logistical headache if large numbers of people start demanding that information about themselves be removed.

While some digital-rights experts welcomed the decision as a victory for privacy rights, others warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The Mountain View, California, company has long argued that people with complaints about Web searches containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information should take it up with the websites.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It remains to be seen whether it will change the way Google and its rivals operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear exactly how the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, which could prove to be a logistical headache if large numbers of people start demanding that information about themselves be removed.

While some digital-rights experts welcomed the decision as a victory for privacy rights, others warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The Mountain View, California, company has long argued that people with complaints about Web searches containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information should take it up with the websites.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It remains to be seen whether it will change the way Google and its rivals operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear exactly how the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, which could prove to be a logistical headache if large numbers of people start demanding that information about themselves be removed.

While some digital-rights experts welcomed the decision as a victory for privacy rights, others warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The Mountain View, California, company has long argued that people with complaints about Web searches containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information should take it up with the websites.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It remains to be seen whether it will change the way Google and its rivals operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear exactly how the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, which could prove to be a logistical headache if large numbers of people start demanding that information about themselves be removed.

While some digital-rights experts welcomed the decision as a victory for privacy rights, others warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The Mountain View, California, company has long argued that people with complaints about Web searches containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information should take it up with the websites.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It remains to be seen whether it will change the way Google and its rivals operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear exactly how the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, which could prove to be a logistical headache if large numbers of people start demanding that information about themselves be removed.

While some digital-rights experts welcomed the decision as a victory for privacy rights, others warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The Mountain View, California, company has long argued that people with complaints about Web searches containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information should take it up with the websites.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to EU citizens and all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It remains to be seen whether it will change the way Google and its rivals operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear exactly how the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, which could prove to be a logistical headache if large numbers of people start demanding that information about themselves be removed.

While some digital-rights experts welcomed the decision as a victory for privacy rights, others warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The Mountain View, California, company has long argued that people with complaints about Web searches containing outdated or otherwise objectionable information should take it up with the websites.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow ex-convicts to delete references to their crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It is less clear whether it will affect the way search engines operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Digital-rights experts said the decision by the top court in the 28-nation EU puts privacy ahead of freedom of information, and they warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — In a landmark ruling that could rock the Internet search-engine industry, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday that people are entitled to some control over what pops up when their name is Googled.

The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing information about them.

The ruling applies to all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing. It is less clear whether it will affect the way search engines operate in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world.

Nor is it clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints.

Digital-rights experts said the decision by the top court in the 28-nation EU puts privacy ahead of freedom of information, and they warned it could lead to online censorship.

Google said it was disappointed by the ruling – which cannot be appealed – but was still studying its implications.

The EU, which would be the world’s largest economy if its 28 countries were counted as one, has a population of over 500 million.

The case was referred to the European Court from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010, the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas. It’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before, it’s perfect now, because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Costeja’s case will now return to Spain for final judgment. There are about 200 others in the Spanish court system, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance, one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched operation removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine, “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the permanence of the Internet.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have criticized it as a disguised form of censorship that could, for example, allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union. It is a most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten’,” said Tourino, who has worked for the AP in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said the ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – for example, in regard to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way. However, the burden falls on the publisher of the information, usually a government – not on search engines.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, policy director at Open Rights Group, a British-based organization, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of Internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet. Once a site removes the content, Google’s links to the material will disappear soon after.

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

Though digital rights campaigners say the ruling by the top court in the 28-nation EU favors individual privacy rights over the freedom of information, there are questions as to how it will be put into practice and whether it will prompt a change in the way search engines operate globally.

In a judgment that will potentially impact on all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile. Under European privacy law, it said people should be able to ask to have links to private information in that `profile’ removed.

It is not clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, and Google said it is still studying the ruling, which cannot be appealed.

The referral to the European Court came from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010 the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas, it’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before it’s perfect now because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Following the European ruling, Costeja’s case will return to Spain for final judgment. There are 200 others in the Spanish docks, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance: one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery her performed removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the `right to be forgotten’ – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have critiqued it as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—-

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

Though digital rights campaigners say the ruling by the top court in the 28-nation EU favors individual privacy rights over the freedom of information, there are questions as to how it will be put into practice and whether it will prompt a change in the way search engines operate globally.

In a judgment that will potentially impact on all search engines in Europe, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile. Under European privacy law, it said people should be able to ask to have links to private information in that `profile’ removed.

It is not clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, and Google said it is still studying the ruling, which cannot be appealed.

The referral to the European Court came from Spain’s National Court, which asked for advice in the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who found a search on his name turned up links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. In 2010 the agency agreed, but Google refused and took the matter to court, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

“It’s a great relief to be shown that you were right when you have fought for your ideas, it’s a joy,” Costeja told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. “If Google was great before it’s perfect now because there are game rules to go by.”

He said that “ordinary people will know where they have to go” to complain about bad or old information that turns up on a Google search.

Following the European ruling, Costeja’s case will return to Spain for final judgment. There are 200 others in the Spanish docks, some of which may still prove difficult to decide. For instance: one involves a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery her performed removed from Google’s results.

In its ruling, the European Court said people may address requests directly to the operator of the search engine “which must then duly examine its merits.”

The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data. When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the `right to be forgotten’ – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record.

Though the idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have critiqued it as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the U.S. and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Viviane Reding, the EU’s top justice official, said in a Facebook posting that the ruling confirmed that “data belongs to the individual” and that unless there is a good reason to retain data, “an individual should be empowered by law to request erasure.”

However, Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group, cautioned that authorities have to be careful in how they move forward.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy,” he said. “But if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain … it could lead to online censorship.”

He added the case has “major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.”

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—-

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—-

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.

In an advisory judgment that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile. Under European privacy law, it said people should be able to ask to have links to private information in that `profile’ removed.

It is not clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, and Google said it is still studying the advisory ruling, which cannot be appealed.

In the ruling, the court said people “may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine … which must then duly examine its merits.” The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the `right to be forgotten’ – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record.

The idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, while many in the U.S. have critiqued it as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Tuesday’s decision came as a surprise since it went counter to the advice the court received from its own top lawyer last year. The European court became involved after Spain’s Audiencia Nacional, or national court, asked for its opinion in 200 pending cases. Tuesday’s ruling will inform upcoming Spanish decisions.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

A law that would formally establish a “right to be forgotten” is still under debate in the European Parliament, and Tuesday’s ruling focused on existing privacy laws.

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

The referral to the European Court derives from the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who searched his name on Google and found links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. The agency agreed, but Google refused, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

Though Costeja’s case will now be reviewed by the Spanish court, the European decision strongly implies such requests should be granted.

However, it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or in other countries.

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the United States and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Digital rights groups had mixed reactions to the court’s decision.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

“This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—–

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—–

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.

In an advisory judgment that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile. Under European privacy law, it said people should be able to ask to have links to private information in that `profile’ removed.

It is not clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, and Google said it is still studying the advisory ruling, which cannot be appealed.

In the ruling, the court said people “may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine … which must then duly examine its merits.” The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the `right to be forgotten’ – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record.

The idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, while many in the U.S. have critiqued it as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Tuesday’s decision came as a surprise since it went counter to the advice the court received from its own top lawyer last year. The European court became involved after Spain’s Audiencia Nacional, or national court, asked for its opinion in 200 pending cases. Tuesday’s ruling will inform upcoming Spanish decisions.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

A law that would formally establish a “right to be forgotten” is still under debate in the European Parliament, and Tuesday’s ruling focused on existing privacy laws.

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

The referral to the European Court derives from the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who searched his name on Google and found links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. The agency agreed, but Google refused, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

Though Costeja’s case will now be reviewed by the Spanish court, the European decision strongly implies such requests should be granted.

However, it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or in other countries.

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the United States and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Digital rights groups had mixed reactions to the court’s decision.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

“This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—–

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—–

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.

In an advisory judgment that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile. Under European privacy law, it said people should be able to ask to have links to private information in that `profile’ removed.

It is not clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, and Google said it is still studying the advisory ruling, which cannot be appealed.

In the ruling, the court said people “may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine … which must then duly examine its merits.” The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the `right to be forgotten’ – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record.

The idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, while many in the U.S. have critiqued it as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Tuesday’s decision came as a surprise since it went counter to the advice the court received from its own top lawyer last year. The European court became involved after Spain’s Audiencia Nacional, or national court, asked for its opinion in 200 pending cases. Tuesday’s ruling will inform upcoming Spanish decisions.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

A law that would formally establish a “right to be forgotten” is still under debate in the European Parliament, and Tuesday’s ruling focused on existing privacy laws.

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

The referral to the European Court derives from the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who searched his name on Google and found links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. The agency agreed, but Google refused, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

Though Costeja’s case will now be reviewed by the Spanish court, the European decision strongly implies such requests should be granted.

However, it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or in other countries.

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the United States and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Digital rights groups had mixed reactions to the court’s decision.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

“This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—–

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—–

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing their personal information.

Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.

In an advisory judgment that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile. Under European privacy law, it said people should be able to ask to have links to private information in that `profile’ removed.

It is not clear how exactly the court envisions Google and others handling complaints, and Google said it is still studying the advisory ruling, which cannot be appealed.

In the ruling, the court said people “may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine … which must then duly examine its merits.” The right is not absolute, as search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

Debates over the `right to be forgotten’ – to have negative information erased after a period of time – have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record.

The idea of such a right has generally been well-received in Europe, while many in the U.S. have critiqued it as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

Tuesday’s decision came as a surprise since it went counter to the advice the court received from its own top lawyer last year. The European court became involved after Spain’s Audiencia Nacional, or national court, asked for its opinion in 200 pending cases. Tuesday’s ruling will inform upcoming Spanish decisions.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

A law that would formally establish a “right to be forgotten” is still under debate in the European Parliament, and Tuesday’s ruling focused on existing privacy laws.

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

The referral to the European Court derives from the case of Mario Costeja, a Spaniard who searched his name on Google and found links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper in 1998, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he asked the Spanish privacy agency to have the reference removed. The agency agreed, but Google refused, saying it should not be asked to censor material that had been legally published by the newspaper.

Though Costeja’s case will now be reviewed by the Spanish court, the European decision strongly implies such requests should be granted.

However, it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or in other countries.

Some limited forms of a “right to be forgotten” exist in the United States and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

Digital rights groups had mixed reactions to the court’s decision.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

“This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—–

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—–

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing personal information.

Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.

In an advisory judgment stemming from a lawsuit against Google that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile, one that a person has some right to control over under European privacy laws. As such, the court said people should be able to ask to have links to private information removed. That’s true even when a non-Google website is still hosting the information.

In the ruling, the court said people “may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine … which must then duly examine its merits.” In addition, it said search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

The decision came as a surprise since it went counter to the advice the court received from its own top lawyer last year. The European court became involved after a Spanish appeals court asked for its opinion in 200 pending cases. Initially billed as a test of the “right to be forgotten,” the impact of Tuesday’s wider ruling could be far and wide.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

The “right to be forgotten” is based on the premise that outdated information about people should be removed from the Internet after a certain time. A law that would establish that right is still under debate in European Parliament.

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

The referral to the European Court came after Spaniard Mario Costeja searched his name on Google and found links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper years before, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he sued to have the reference removed. Though his case will now be sent back to Spanish courts for further review, the European decision strongly implies requests like Costeja’s should be granted.

However it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or cases in other countries for that matter.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record. But while such proposals have generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have critiqued the `right’ as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

That said, limited forms of the “right” exist in the United States and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

“This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google’s Verney noted that the ruling differed “dramatically” from the advice of the court’s own top adviser “and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out.”

According to the lawyer, Niilo Jaaskinen, Google was merely offering links to information already available. Tuesday’s ruling explicitly rejected that.

Google, which had argued that it should not be forced to play the role of censor, currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—–

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—–

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

.

European court: Google must yield on personal info

KDWN

AMSTERDAM (AP) — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe’s highest court said Tuesday.

In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing personal information.

Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.

In an advisory judgment stemming from a lawsuit against Google that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing, the court said a search on a person’s name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile, one that a person has some right to control over under European privacy laws. As such, the court said people should be able to ask to have links to private information removed. That’s true even when a non-Google website is still hosting the information.

In the ruling, the court said people “may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine … which must then duly examine its merits.” In addition, it said search engines must weigh “the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information” against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

When an agreement can’t be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.

The decision came as a surprise since it went counter to the advice the court received from its own top lawyer last year. The European court became involved after a Spanish appeals court asked for its opinion in 200 pending cases. Initially billed as a test of the “right to be forgotten,” the impact of Tuesday’s wider ruling could be far and wide.

Alejandro Tourino, a Spanish lawyer who specializes in mass media issues, said the ruling was a first of its kind and “quite a blow for Google.”

“This serves as a basis for all members of the European Union, it is (a) most important ruling and the first time European authorities have ruled on the `right to be forgotten,’” said Tourino, who has worked for The Associated Press in several legal cases and is the author of “The Right to be Forgotten and Privacy on the Internet.”

The “right to be forgotten” is based on the premise that outdated information about people should be removed from the Internet after a certain time. A law that would establish that right is still under debate in European Parliament.

Google spokesman Al Verney said Tuesday’s ruling was “disappointing … for search engines and online publishers in general.” The company, he said, will “now need to take time to analyze the implications.”

The referral to the European Court came after Spaniard Mario Costeja searched his name on Google and found links to a notice that his property was due to be auctioned because of an unpaid welfare debt. The notice had been published in a Spanish newspaper years before, and was tracked by Google’s robots when the newspaper digitalized its archive.

Costeja argued that the debt had long since been settled, and he sued to have the reference removed. Though his case will now be sent back to Spanish courts for further review, the European decision strongly implies requests like Costeja’s should be granted.

However it is not clear how it will impact other cases also in the Spanish docks, such as that of a plastic surgeon who wants mentions of a botched surgery removed.

Or cases in other countries for that matter.

Debates over the “right to be forgotten” have surfaced across the world as tech users struggle to reconcile the forgive-and-forget nature of human relations with the unforgiving permanence of the electronic record. But while such proposals have generally been well-received in Europe, many in the U.S. have critiqued the `right’ as a disguised form of censorship that could allow convicts to delete references to past crimes or politicians to airbrush their records.

That said, limited forms of the “right” exist in the United States and elsewhere – including in relation to crimes committed by minors or bankruptcy regulations, both of which usually require that records be expunged in some way.

“We need to take into account individuals’ right to privacy but if search engines are forced to remove links to legitimate content that is already in the public domain but not the content itself, it could lead to online censorship,” said Javier Ruiz, Policy Director at Open Rights Group.

“This case has major implications for all kind of internet intermediaries, not just search engines.

Google’s Verney noted that the ruling differed “dramatically” from the advice of the court’s own top adviser “and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out.”

According to the lawyer, Niilo Jaaskinen, Google was merely offering links to information already available. Tuesday’s ruling explicitly rejected that.

Google, which had argued that it should not be forced to play the role of censor, currently advises users to approach websites that have published information about them as a first step in having it cleared from the Internet: once a site removes the content, Google’s result links to the material will disappear soon after.

The Mountain View, California-based company also offers a guide to users on how best to approach having personal information removed from the web.

—–

Online: https://support.google.com/websearch/troubleshooter/3111061

—–

Associated Press reporters Ciaran Giles in Madrid and Raphael Satter in London contributed to this story.

.