Google to snub some take-down re­quests

Taranaki Daily News - - World -

Lon­don – Mem­bers of par­lia­ment, celebri­ties and pub­lic fig­ures who try to white­wash their rep­u­ta­tions by de­mand­ing Google re­move em­bar­rass­ing ma­te­rial from search re­sults will have their re­quests turned down.

The Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled last month that in­di­vid­u­als can de­mand Google and other search en­gines re­move ma­te­rial that is no longer rel­e­vant or out of date.

Google has al­ready had 50,000 re­quests to re­move data and started re­mov­ing links from search re­sults last week.

How­ever, Google con­sid­ers that the rul­ing does not ex­tend to pub­lic fig­ures who want to re­move po­ten­tially dam­ag­ing ma­te­rial from pub­lic view.

An MP seek­ing re-elec­tion and an ac­tor want­ing de­tails of an af­fair with a teenager are among those who have made take-down re­quests. It is un­der­stood such ap­pli­ca­tions will be re­fused.

Google’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the rul­ing, to ex­clude re­quests from pub­lic fig­ures, could be chal­lenged in Bri­tain with a com­plaint to the In­for­ma­tion Com­mis­sioner’s Of­fice. How­ever, lawyers say that fa­mous people may be re­luc­tant to fight a high-pro­file case that could draw greater at­ten­tion to the ma­te­rial they are try­ing to re­move.

Google will also turn down re­quests from pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als where it con­sid­ers the pub­lic in­ter­est in the ma­te­rial re­main­ing in search re­sults out­weighs that per­son’s right to pri­vacy.

This is likely to in­clude re­cent crim­i­nal of­fences and pro­fes­sion­als who wish to see re­ports of dis­ci­plinary pro­ce­dures against them deleted.

Lon­don lawyer Larry Co­hen said the Euro­pean court rul­ing con­cerned a pri­vate in­di­vid­ual – a Span­ish man who had wanted a 1998 auc­tion no­tice on his re­pos­sessed home re­moved from search re­sults, and that Google had sound le­gal grounds for turn­ing down re­quests from pub­lic fig­ures.

‘‘The rul­ing makes clear that pub­lic fig­ures have a lower ex­pec­ta­tion of pri­vacy. This judg­ment will help cer­tain people, but not when it con­cerns pub­lic fig­ures or people in whom there is a gen­uine pub­lic in­ter­est,’’ he said.

The rul­ing states that in­di­vid­u­als have a fun­da­men­tal right to pri­vacy that is greater than the need to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic. It adds, how­ever, that the right to pri­vacy can be breached for spe­cific rea­sons ‘‘such as the role played by the data sub­ject in pub­lic life’’.

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