The Court of Justice of the European Union sided with privacy rights supporters on Tuesday, saying that search engine Google can be required to remove sensitive information from its Internet search results.
The ruling means that people should have the "right to be forgotten" meaning that they should be able to remove their digital traces from the Internet.
The ruling by the Luxembourg-based European Union Court of Justice (ECJ) came after a Spanish man complained to the Spanish data protection agency that an auction notice of his repossessed home on Google's search results infringed his privacy.
An EU directive has the objective of protecting the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons (in particular the right to privacy) when personal data are processed, while removing obstacles to the free flow of such data.
"..in response to the question whether the directive
enables the data subject to request that links to web pages be removed from such a list of results on the grounds
tha the wishes the information appearing on those pages relating to him personally to be 'forgotten' after a certain
time, the Court holds that, if it is found, following a request by the data subject, that the inclusion of those links
in the list is, at this point in time, incompatible with
thedirective, the links and information in the list of results must be erased," judges said.
They said people could ask Google to delete sensitive data or go to a relevant authority if the company fails to comply with their request.