The EU’s top court has ordered Google to eliminate “manifestly inaccurate” data

Alphabet subsidiary Google must remove erroneous information from online search results, ruled Europe’s highest court Thursday.

In recent years, proponents of free speech and privacy rights have argued over the “right to be forgotten” online, which means that individuals should be able to erase their digital footprints.

The case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) involved two executives from a group of investment businesses who had requested that Google erase search results tying their names to publications criticizing the company’s investment plan.

In addition, they requested that Google remove thumbnail images of them from search results. The corporation denied the requests, stating that it did not know if the information contained in the stories was accurate.

Subsequently, a German court consulted the CJEU regarding the balance between the right to be forgotten and the right to freedom of expression and access to information.

“The operator of a search engine must de-reference material discovered in the linked content if the individual requesting de-referencing demonstrates that such information is obviously erroneous,” the Court of Justice of the European Union stated.

To avoid placing an undue burden on users, judges have ruled that such information need not originate from a court ruling against website publishers; users need to give evidence that can be fairly expected of them.

Google stated that the disputed links and images were no longer accessible via a web search and image search and that the content had been offline for a considerable time.

Since 2014, we’ve worked diligently to implement the right to be forgotten in Europe and to find a balance between people’s access to information and privacy rights, according to a spokeswoman.

The same court entrenched the right to be forgotten in 2014, stating that individuals might request search engines such as Google to erase inaccurate or irrelevant information from search results that display when their names are entered.

The ruling predated major EU privacy regulations that entered into effect in 2018 and indicated that the right to be forgotten is not applicable when personal processing data is required to exercise the right to information.

The case is C-460/20 Google (Déréférencement d’un contenu prétendument inexact).