Google has been ordered to remove nine search results after the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) ruled that they are linked to information about a person who was no longer relevant.
This order follows last year's significant ruling by the European Court of Justice (see ourrelated report) which stated that under EU law, search engines are "data controllers" and must remove search results containing personal data which is inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed (widely known as "the right to be forgotten").
In this particular case, the personal information of the individual, which included details of a minor criminal offence committed by the individual almost ten years ago, was displayed when a search was made by entering his name. After Google deleted this information from the search results, links to the actual story by which Google deleted this information, were then part of the search results displayed when searching for the complainant’s name on Google. The results contained repeated details of the original criminal offence. Although the ICO ruling recognizes that journalistic content relating to decisions to delete search results may be newsworthy and in the public interest, it confirms that this does not justify including links to that content when a search is made by entering the affected individual’s name, as this has an unwarranted and negative impact on the individual’s privacy and is a breach of the UK's Data Protection Act.