March 3, 2012 by staff
Google Privacy, Spain’s highest court wants the top court in Europe to decide if requests by Spanish citizens to have data deleted from Google’s search engine are lawful, in a case that could put more pressure on it to review its privacy policies.
The court, the Audiencia Nacional, said it had asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to clarify whether Google should remove data from its search engine’s index and news aggregator even when it is not responsible for producing the content in its search results.
Madrid’s data protection authority has received over 100 requests from Spanish citizens to have their data removed from Google’s search results.
Among the cases is one of a Spanish man who complained to the national regulator about a notice of his home’s repossession for non-payment of social security, which kept appearing in a national newspaper in the Google News aggregator. In another case, a plastic surgeon wants to get rid of archived references to a botched operation.
The Spanish judges also asked the ECJ whether the complainants must take their grievances to California, where Google is based and said it wanted the matters heard.
The referral of the case to the ECJ marks the first formal inquiry into when people can demand that their data be deleted.
Such a “right to be forgotten” is included in updated data protection rules proposed by Viviane Reding, the European commissioner for justice and fundamental rights, and is being considered by the European Parliament.
The Spanish judges’ request also fuels the ongoing debate over when the web giant should delete content from its massive news index.
Google has maintained that it cannot lawfully remove any content for which it is merely the host and not the producer, a principle enshrined in EU law on eCommerce since 2000.
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