Google… A Link to Your Unsavoury Past!

In a world first, the European Court of Justice has held that Google must, if requested, remove or block search results against an individuals name.

The original claim involved a Spanish lawyer who made a complaint against the Spanish Date Protection Agency in 2010 for search results that linked his name to a 1998 newspaper article referring to a bank foreclosure over his house.

This complaint was dismissed, however, Google was ordered to remove the links to the article from its search engines, a decision which Google later appealed to the Court of Justice and subsequently lost.

Since the ruling Google has been required to make it easier for people in Europe to request the removal of certain links and surprisingly in little over 2 weeks the search engine giant has received over 41,000 requests to delete private information.

Despite the huge influx of applications, each request must be manually verified by Google and a successful decision does not prevent the information being made accessible outside of Europe or through other search engines.

Unfortunately for Australians no such right exists under the Australia Privacy Act 1988. Individuals are unable to request the removal of their personal information, even if it is inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant.

In Australia individuals are entitled to request that information which is stored about them is correct and companies must destroy data which is no longer required however, there is no equivalent right which would allow an individual to demand Google remove search links connecting them to their embarrassing or unsavoury past.