Are Google search results about you unlawful?
If the results from a Google search on your name are not all they could be, or perhaps more than they should be, it is worth considering a new procedure available to try and rectify the situation, following a recent seismic shift in internet data protection law.
Following a 2014 judgment by the European Court of Justice, Google can now be held liable as a data controller where it unfairly processes personal data about you in the EU. As a result, Google must remove all search links about individuals which are ‘inadequate, irrelevant or excessive’, ‘not kept up to date’, or ‘kept for longer than is necessary…’ . This obligation on search providers and the ability to hold them to account has been termed the ‘right to be forgotten’.
Withers Media & Reputation and Intellectual Property & Technology teams are experienced in advising on legal remedies where false and defamatory, private and confidential or otherwise unlawful material is published online or elsewhere. The recent recognition of a right to be forgotten is an additional and potentially powerful new tool for the protection of personal reputations and privacy online.
While we wait to see how the ruling is ultimately interpreted and implemented by the UK Information Commissioner and other EU data protection regulators, web search providers in the EU should no longer return results which contain personal information that is irrelevant, out of date or plainly inaccurate. Google has also launched an online form to facilitate requests for deletion of search results that fail to comply with this requirement (which is subject to a limited public interest exemption). We will be happy to advise you further on this, on your rights and on other legal means to ensure that web search providers are responsible and balanced in the information they process and publish.