Euro Court: Google Must Censor Results to Protect Your Reputation


Tired of that unflattering post in your ex’s Tumblr messing up your Google results page? A court ruling in Europe may force the search giant and others to scrub results page of damaging information, even if the information is true, according to the Associated Press.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that search engines must allow users some input into their search results. The ruling does not apply in the United States, forcing search companies to figure out how to provide different results pages in different parts of the world.

From the AP:

The case involved a Spanish man who wanted Google to delete a 16-year-old newspaper article about his house being auctioned off for failure to pay taxes. But the ruling, by the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice, is binding on all 28 EU member countries and involves all search engine owners, not just Google. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding called it "a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans."

Google, not surprisingly, told Bloomberg News that the decision is "disappointing."

The ruling is a departure from Google’s previous stance, asking upset users to contact the source of the information to alter or remove the offending pages. British online privacy rights group Big Brother Watch told the AP that the ruling could lead to censorship on the web.

"The principle that you have a right to be forgotten is a laudable one, but it was never intended to be a way for people to rewrite history," says Emma Carr, acting director of the British group Big Brother Watch. "Search engines do not host information, and trying to get them to censor legal content from their results is the wrong approach."

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