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The Court of Justice of the European Union’s recent ruling in favour of a Spanish man who wanted 1998 newspaper announcements about him removed from Google search results has prompted Google’s chief executive to suggest that the company will "be more European" in its approach.
Google has also introduced a form allowing individuals to lodge requests for search results to be removed whilst it finalises procedures to comply with the judgment. Some media reports have suggested that Google has been receiving 7 such requests per second.
The judgment concerned newspaper announcements mentioning a Mr Costeja González in connection with a property auction linked to the recovery of social security debts, resolved some years previously.
The Court held that:
The judgment appears to appoint Google as the initial arbiter of where this public interest lies, although local data protection/judicial authorities may have a role in cases where the search provider refuses a removal request.
The ICO has cautioned against drawing wider implications for freedom of expression in the judgment.
A final irony is that Mr Costeja González may have now been immortalised in a CJEU judgment which contains the very information that he was anxious not to be made publicly available…
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