Google has been under increasing pressure in Europe for a number of reasons. While their general approach to Search has been under investigation from the European Commission, Google has also been battling against a recent ‘Right to be Forgotten” rule which came into effect last year. The actual ruling means that if someone requests removal of outdated information about them that appears in Google’s search results, then Google has to remove links to this content and subsequently from Search’s results. Essentially, Google Search has to forget them.
While Google has been complying with the ruling in general, it has now again been ordered to remove nine specific links relating to current news articles which covered the previous request which had been made. Google had already complied with the forget me request. However, in doing so, news agencies covered Google complying with the requests and this coverage essentially created fresh links which were again indexed by Google and again linked back to the original ruled forgotten content when searched. Google had been arguing that they are complying and the newly generated links were journalistic links which are current and relevant for journalistic purposes.
However, it seems the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ruled that as the new links essentially led back to the same claimant’s name and the criminal offence, they were bound by the same regulations as the original removed links. The ICO did acknowledge that the new links were of a journalistic nature and even did agree that they could be in the public interest. However, as they effectively replaced the old links with new links that could link back to the original forgotten content, they were ordered to be removed. Further adding, that although in the public interest, the interest could be satisfied by the content available without having the complainant’s name part of the search results. Google now has 35 days (from August 18th) to remove the links. However, they still do also have the option to appeal the ‘notice to remove’ with the General Regulatory Chamber. For those wondering, the current right to be forgotten ruling is only enforceable in Europe. Although, some groups have been demanding that a similar ruling should be in place in the U.S. as well.