Last week the ECJ delivered a landmark ruling which sent shockwaves through the global search engine’s European platform. The story has been reported all over the world by major news broadcasters and individuals have already issued ample removal requests in light of the decision. However, considering the story’s exposure, data protection authorities have been reluctant to provide official guidance.
The Article 29 Working Party issued a press release on 23 May. On 20 May the ICO released what it considers to be the key points on the decision and on 22 May it released this blog post. Essentially, these indicate that the ICO will not rule on complaints it receives in light of the judgment until search providers have had a reasonable time to manage the impact of the ruling. The ICO will then focus on cases where individuals can clearly show damage or distress arising from search results. The ICO will liaise with its EU counterparts in the Article 29 Working Party next month to ensure a consistent EU-wide approach in issuing guidance to search providers. The ICO then plans to speak with UK-established search providers.
Google is expected to have to liaise closely with data protection authorities in assessing removal requests. Since last week Google have created an online form to deal with removal requests. The form also states that Google may forward the request to the relevant data protection authority. However, for now, the ICO appears to be holding fire and it appears the ball is very much in Google’s (and other search engines’) court.