Finding false information about yourself online can be nerve-wracking. Because the initiation of deletion is not that easy. The European Court of Justice is now ruling in a way that makes the whole process easier for affected users.
Search engines like Google have to remove entries from the result lists if they are proven to be incorrect. Those affected do not first have to contact the person who put the information online, but can hold Google accountable. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided on Thursday in Luxembourg. (Case C-460/20)
The background to this is a case before the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe, in which a couple from the financial services industry felt they had been discredited by a US website. The company behind this site is in turn accused of launching targeted negative reports in order to later blackmail those affected. Google had refused to remove the links to the articles. One cannot judge whether there is any truth to the allegations.
The ECJ did not follow this. If a person can prove that a search query leads to a page with obviously incorrect information, the search engine must delete the corresponding link. It does not need a judicial decision, it said. Those concerned need only provide such evidence as "may reasonably be required".
The ECJ made a similar decision in 2014. At that time, the court had granted users a "right to be forgotten". It obliges search engine operators to remove links to websites with sensitive personal information from the list of results under certain circumstances. The data protection law of the European Union, which came into force in 2018, only allows an exception if this is necessary for the exercise of the right to information.