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European court: Google must yield on personal info

•  National News     updated  2014/05/13 11:20


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.
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