Debate over online privacy continues with landmark UK court case.
As the debate over online privacy and use of personal data continues, a UK citizen has won a landmark court case against tech giant Google over his right to demand that search results referring to his criminal history be removed from the search engine.
The unnamed businessman was convicted 10 years ago of conspiring to intercept communications and sentenced to six months in prison.
In a separate case, another businessman, who was convicted more than 10 years ago of conspiring to account falsely, lost his legal challenge.
Both had ordered Google to remove search results about their convictions, including links to news articles, stating that they were no longer relevant, and took Google to court when it refused to remove the results.
The tech company said it would respect the rulings. “We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are in the public interest,” it said in a statement.
“We are pleased that the Court recognized our efforts in this area, and we will respect the judgements they have made in this case.”
In Europe, the so-called ‘right to be forgotten’ is a legal precedent set by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014, following a case brought by Spaniard Mario Costeja Gonzalez who had asked Google to remove information about his financial history.
Google says it has removed 800,000 pages from its results following such requests. However, search engines can decline to remove pages if they judge them to remain in the public interest.
Explaining the decisions made on Friday, the British judge presiding over the case said one of the men had continued to “mislead the public” while the other had “shown remorse.”
The Open Rights Group, a UK-based organization which campaigns for internet freedoms, said the rulings set a “legal precedent.”
“The right to be forgotten is meant to apply to information that is no longer relevant but disproportionately impacts a person,” executive director Jim Killock told the BBC.
“The Court will have to balance the public’s right to access the historical record, the precise impacts on the person, and the public interest.”