Internet Dementia – European Court Judgment and the ‘Right to be Forgotten’

Christian Möller, a Fall 2014 CGCS Listing Scholar, overviews and analyzes the recent European Court Judgement on the ‘right to be forgotten.’

The Spanish Case

In 1998, Mario Costeja González, a Spanish citizen from El Escorial near the Spanish capital Madrid, was about to be forced into the foreclosure sale of his property due to social security debts, a fact that, on page 23, was also reported by the regional La Vanguardia newspaper. Although the proceedings were concluded and resolved, for years to come a Google search of González’s name brought up the newspaper notice of the foreclosure.

In 2009, González filed a complaint with the Spanish Data Protection Agency (or Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, short AEPD) against La Vanguardia and Google Spain, asking for an injunction against both the newspaper and search engine. The AEPD dismissed the claim against the newspaper (which was under a legal obligation to publish the official notice), but issued an injunction against Google Spain SL and Google Inc. to delete the data from the search engine’s index. Google appealed to the AEPD, whichreferred the case to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxemburg.

On May 13, 2014, the ECJ ruled that Google must remove links to outdated or irrelevant personal information from search results upon request. The Court found that individuals have a right to control their private data and that they have the right to request that information be ‘forgotten’ when the results show links to information that…

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