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EU Court Rule: Google Must Remove False Search Results About Individuals

December 16, 2022

The EU’s top court ruled, on December 8, that people can require search engines, such as Google, to delete results referencing them by demonstrating that the information is manifestly inaccurate.

Under the concept known as “the right to be forgotten”, individuals in European countries have the authority to request that Google and other search engines remove references to inaccurate or humiliating information about them, even if it’s true.

However, disputes over the legislation frequently pit information freedom against privacy concerns.

Read more about this topic on the Politico website.

What Pushed This Decision

Before CJE implemented this rule, such a case involved two executives from a group of investment firms who asked Google to remove search results that linked their names to articles that criticized the group's investment model.

They claimed that the articles contained false information - the managers and the company were not named.

The two persons also requested that Google remove thumbnail photos of them that appeared in image searches without any context.

According to a press summary of the ruling, Google refused the request because it didn't know whether the articles were accurate or not. So the situation started to bloom.

The court disagreed with Google, stating that the search engine must accept the request if someone provides pertinent and convincing evidence demonstrating the manifest error of the content.

The judgment stated that a judicial decision is not necessary and that people might present only proof that can reasonably be requested in order to avoid making it too difficult to get erroneous results removed.

A spokesperson for Google said, "We welcome the decision, and we will now study the text of the CJEU’s decision". It also states that  "The links and thumbnails in question are not available via the web search and image search anymore; the content at issue has been offline for a long time." 

According to Google's most recent transparency report, 5.25 million web links have been removed since it began processing "right to be forgotten" requests in 2014, or roughly half of all requests.

The decision may influence how the General Data Protection Regulation of the EU is interpreted. You will be able to erase stuff that is clearly untrue in addition to being able to remove search data based on privacy concerns. 

Even if they are not interested in bringing legal action, this might conceivably assist European citizens in limiting their access to false information and slander.

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