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Google must delete search results on request, rules EU court

The top European court says you can ask Google to change or delete search listings that refer to you, giving you a "right to be forgotten".

(Via Cnet)
European lawmakers have told Google to forget about it. The top European Court has ruled that citizens have a "right to be forgotten" and can ask the Big G to delete search results about them.

In what could turn out to be one of the biggest shake-ups to online privacy legislation, the European Union Court of Justice decided Tuesday (PDF) that people can ask Google and other online entities to edit or erase online search results if those results contain information that might infringe the privacy of the person in question.

"If, following a search made on the basis of a person's name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly," the judges ruled. If the search operator refuses to change the search results, the person in question can "bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results."

Following the ruling, a Google spokesperson told CNET: "This is a disappointing ruling for search engines and online publishers in general. We are very surprised that it differs so dramatically from the Advocate General's opinion and the warnings and consequences that he spelled out. We now need to take time to analyse the implications."
Forget about it

Google's search results act like snapshots, so allegations and rumours reported online are preserved in future searches even if the information is out-of-date. If, for example, someone is tried and then acquitted of a crime, the original reports of their arrest and trial still appear in search results -- not necessarily with any indication that the person has later been vindicated.
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