Upholding of complaint against Google brings important consequences

Earlier this week, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave a preliminary ruling in proceedings between Google Spain SL/Google Inc, the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD) and a third-party complainant. The judgment gives individuals considerable power to prevent search engines including personal data in search results. The CJEU has also emphasised the broad territorial scope of current data protection laws. The decision has important consequences for all organisations subject to the Data Protection Directive.

In March 2010, Mario Costeja González lodged a complaint with the AEPD against both Google and daily newspaper publisher La Vanguardia Ediciones SL. This was based on the fact that when Mr González’s name was entered into Google a link was provided to two pages of La Vanguardia detailing a property auction undertaken for social security debt recovery purposes. The bankruptcy proceedings having been resolved a number of years previously, Mr González argued that the references were irrelevant. To this end, he requested that: La Vanguardia be made to remove/alter the pages so his personal data no longer appeared or used appropriate search engine features to protect the information; and Google should be made to remove/hide the information so it did not feature in search results…

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