Google suffers defeat in landmark 'right to be forgotten' case

Eloise Marshall
April 14, 2018

Google initially rejected his plea, but a judge in a United Kingdom court ruled against Google today.

Google is fighting court cases and privacy regulators across Europe over how far it should go to delete links.

"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", the tech giant said in a statement.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in 2014 that search engines must remove the links to search results if it contains information an individuals believes should be "forgotten", which the engine must then assess balanced between the interest of internet users and the privacy rights of the citizen. The same judge who sided with the other businessman ruled in favor of Google in this latter case, particularly because the former's case was less serious and he had, in the opinion of the judge, reformed and shown remorse. The man, who has not been publicly identified for legal reasons, was convicted more than a decade ago of conspiracy to intercept communications, reported The Guardian.

They argued their convictions were now legally spent and they had both been rehabilitated. A Google search brings up the information "through a few key strokes", undermining the law about such older convictions where a defendant has paid his debt to society, Hugh Tomlinson, a lawyer for one of the businessmen, said at an earlier court hearing.

"The right to be forgotten is meant to apply to information that is no longer relevant but disproportionately impacts a person", said Jim Killock, executive director. He complained of links to 11 source publications.

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In the case of NT1, however, Mr Warby said that the man had continued to mislead people.

The two linked cases are: NT1 v. Google and NT2 v. Google, High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, Case No.'s HQ15X04128 and HQ15X04127.

His current business activities are in a field quite different from that in which he was operating at the time.

He spent four years in jail after being convicted for conspiracy to account falsely in the 1990s. "He has not accepted his guilt, has misled the public and this court, and shows no remorse over any of these matters". Plus, since he "remains in business", the information remains relevant to the public. In those circumstances, "the public interest in having information with his name about this case doesn't prevail".

It's probably safe to say that this ruling will encourage others similarly denied by Google to seek redress in the courts.

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