Spain vs. Google: Citizens Can Have Unflattering Links Deleted

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A plastic surgeon gets sued for 5 million Euro after supposedly botching a breast job and a high school principal gets a ticket for urinating in public. Both want the links to these accounts removed from Google.

It’s bad for business.

These are just two of the 90 people in Spain that have successfully convinced the country’s “Data Protection Agency” to force Google to remove unflattering links from its search engine results.

Google has the right to appeal such decisions in Spain’s National Court, and has done so on five occasions so far. The search giant’s position is that it indexes the world’s information, for better or for worse—if someone wants something removed, they should take it up with whoever published it.

(More on Repairing Your Damaged Online Reputation: When Is It Time to Call the Experts?)

But Spain’s “Right to be Forgotten” movement has resulted in the successful removal of several search results so far, and the European Commission is thought to be exploring similar laws across the entire continent that would extend citizens “more power to delete personal information they previously posted online,” according to the AP.

Getting information you’ve posted about yourself deleted is one thing, but having search engine links to information someone else posted about you deleted is another, more complicated issue entirely.

If ultimately successful, Spain’s “Right to be Forgotten” could have far-reaching implications by setting a precedent wherein Google becomes an arbiter of online content, rather than a tool for collecting and organizing it.

Internet ‘Right to be Forgotten’ debate hits Spain [AP]