EU’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Includes False Claims About People

EU’s ‘Right to be Forgotten’ Includes False Claims About People

The ‘right to be forgotten’ in the European Union now extends to false claims made about a person after a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice. 

In a decisive ruling(Opens in a new window), the Court ruled that Google and similar providers must remove search results on request when they’re “manifestly inaccurate.” As Engadget reports(Opens in a new window), people making the demands will be required to prove that there are falsehoods via evidence that can be reasonably required. This means a judicial ruling is not required to prove an assertion is inaccurate.

The judgment responds to a case where two investment managers asked Google to remove from an image search of their names, links to articles that criticized their joint companies’ investment model which they alleged contained inaccurate claims. They also requested that thumbnail images that had been taken out of context be taken down.

Google said no to the request by referring to the professional context in which those articles and photos were set and arguing that it was unaware whether the information was inaccurate or not.

The managers consequently took the case to the German Federal Court of Justice in turn requested the EU Court of Justice to provide its interpretation of the ‘right to be forgotten’ regulation and personal data rights in relation to the managers’ requests.

The Court points out that the right to protection of personal data is not an absolute right but must be considered in relation to its function in society and be balanced against other fundamental rights. 

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In a statement(Opens in a new window) to Politico, Google said it “welcome[d]” the ruling and would review the Court of Justice’s decision. The company also said that the affected search results and thumbnails haven’t been available for a long while, Engadget reports.

The right to be forgotten refers to the prerogative to have personal information removed from an online source, especially if it was obtained without permission. The regulation came into being in 2014 when Europe’s high court ruled that people can have irrelevant information expunged from search engines. In 2015, California enacted a similar law(Opens in a new window) for minors who are residents of the state.

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