The European Court of Justice ruled today that Google is not obligated to remove links that point to inaccurate or stale content. The case originally involved a Spanish citizen who found reports about his personal debt from years earlier during a web search. He filed his complaint with Spain’s Data Protection Authority, which then ordered Google to remove the links. Google then brought the case to the ECJ.
This new decision really wasn’t about the right to be forgotten, in spite of the way it’s being spun. So I think the ECJ may have actually decided correctly after Google took its appeal to this EU court. The key point is that the court found that Google is not a data controller–EU-speak for any entity that collects consumer data. I’ll have to take a closer at the decision, but I don’t think that’s quite correct.
Sure, Google doesn’t control the content of the web–which has been Google’s gripe–but it surely does collect consumer level data. The real intent of the proposed right to be forgotten principle–which is due to be voted on by the EU Commission next month–is that consumers can ask that data that’s been collected or submitted by them be erased.
Now if the Spanish man had asked Google to remove permanently all data–you could say metadata– about him, including his web search history, Google+ statuses, etc., then we would have a different case.