The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has ordered Google to remove nine search results within 35 days after they ruled that the results linked to information about a person that was no longer relevant.

The nine links that were part of results displayed when searching the complaint's name on the search engine included details of a minor criminal offence committed by the individual concerned over ten years ago. Google had previously removed the links relating to the offence following a request from the complaint which itself became a news story. The links to these later news stories, which repeated details of the original offence, were then part of the results displayed when searching for the complainant’s name on Google.

Google refused the complainant’s request for these later links to be removed from the search results on the basis that the articles concerned a decision by Google to delist a search result and that the articles were an essential part of a recent news story relating to a matter of significant public importance.

The ICO ruled that although it recognised that the decision to delist the search results may be in the public interest it confirmed that it this does not justify Google including links to that content when a Google 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 Data Protection Act.

Deputy Commissioner David Smith stated that : “The European Court ruling last year was clear that links prompted by searching on an individual’s name are subject to data protection rules. That means they shouldn’t include personal information that is no longer relevant…Google was right, in its decision, to accept that search results relating to the complaint's historic conviction were no longer relevant and were having a negative impact on privacy. It is wrong of them to now refuse to remove new links that reveal the same details and have the same negative impact."

Please click here for further information from the ICO.