UK Information Commissioner orders Google to remove links to news reports about 'right to be forgotten' complaint

The UK Information Commissioner has ordered Google to remove links detailing an individual’s criminal conviction in the light of the European “right to be forgotten ruling”.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is charged under the Data Protection Act with ensuring that data is processed “fairly and lawfully”.

The Court of Justice of the European Union ruled last year that individuals have the right to request the removal of links to articles about them from search engines if they feel it breaches their right to privacy.

The ruling has seen thousands of news articles removed from Google search archive in Europe.

The latest ruling from the ICO follows a complaint from an un-named person who successfully asked Google to remove a link to a website report of a criminal conviction.

Their criminal conviction was then relisted on Google via a news story reporting on the successful ‘right to be forgotten’ request.

The individual concerned then asked Google to remove links to this and other follow-up news reports.

According to the ICO, Google refused to do so “on the grounds that the search links were still relevant and in the public interest”.

It also resisted a request from the ICO that it remove the links, arguing that the article “former an essential part of a recent news story relating to a matter of significant public interest”.

The ICO said it decided to take enforcement action ordering Google to remove the links because:

  • "This is not a case where the information is about an individual in public life or where making the information available would protect the public from improper or unprofessional conduct"
  • The information is not “reasonably current” because it relates to a conviction which is almost ten years old
  • The links are having a negative impact on the complainant’s privacy because they relate to a “relatively minor offence” for which they received a two-year conditional discharge.

Google now has 35 days to remove the nine relevant story links.

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