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EU on slippery slope with Google right-to-be-forgotten ruling
In what has been dubbed the "right-to-be-forgotten" ruling the European Court of Justice ruled that an individual could force Google to remove "irrelevant and outdated" search results.
The original case was brought by a Spanish man who complained that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results had infringed his privacy.
The ruling surprised many because it contradicted the advice of the European Union's advocate general who said last year that search engines were not obliged to honour such requests.
EU Commissioner Viviane Reding described the decision as "a clear victory for the protection of personal data of Europeans" but others are concerned about the consequences that it will have for free speech.
Google has received fresh takedown requests including some that are raising eyebrows;
An ex-politician seeking re-election has asked to have links to an article about his behaviour in office removed.
A man convicted of possessing child abuse images has requested links to pages about his conviction to be wiped.
And a doctor wants negative reviews from patients removed from the results.
Google has not commented on the other than describing the European Court of Justice judgement as being "disappointing".
free speech advocates at The Index on Censorship said the court's ruling "should send chills down the spine of everyone in the European Union who believes in the crucial importance of free expression and freedom of information"."The court has said that an individual's desires outweigh society's interest in the complete facts around incidents," it added.
Marc Dautlich, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons, said that search engines might find the new rules hard to implement.
"If they get an appreciable volume of requests what are they going to do? Set up an entire industry sifting through the paperwork?" he asked.
Although the judgement refers specifically to search engines and states that only the links to information, rather than the information itself, be removed from the net, some news organisations have seen a rise in the number of people asking to have articles removed since the ruling.
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