EU data protection authorities to agree approach to ‘right to be forgotten’ appeals

Irish Times and RTÉ not aware of link deletions

The European Court of Justice’s ruling on the “right to be forgotten” has caused controversy for Google. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The European Court of Justice’s ruling on the “right to be forgotten” has caused controversy for Google. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 01:01

EU data protection authorities will meet next week to discuss how to handle complaints from those who had requests to delete information about them refused by Google.

Following a European Court of Justice ruling in May on the “right to be forgotten”, search engines have been required to consider requests from people who want links to pages that mention them hidden when someone searches their name.

Since June 30th, 562 Irish-based people have asked Google to delete links to a total of 1,962 web pages. Google received more than 70,000 requests across the EU last month.

Disputed link

Search engines and European regulatory authorities have scrambled to find ways of adhering to the court’s ruling and Google has held preliminary talks with the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) and provided an online form for deletion requests.

According to the new process, if Google decides not to remove a disputed link, a citizen can then raise the application with the data-protection authority in his or her country.

A spokeswoman for the DPC said the office had not yet received appeals from people whose requests had been turned down by Google.

It had received queries from those who wanted to exercise their “right to be forgotten” and had directed them to the search engine.

Learning process

With a view to ensuring a consistent approach to the “right to be forgotten”, the spokeswoman added, data protection authorities across the EU will begin work next week on “procedural guidelines” for handling complaints about refusals to delete links.

Google, which accounts for more than 90 per cent of European online searches, said it was a learning process.

“This is a new and evolving process for us. We’ll continue to listen to feedback and will also work with data protection authorities and others as we comply with the ruling,” the company said in a statement.

Citing transparency, Google has notified media outlets, including the BBC, when links to any of their articles have been expunged.

So far, Google has not notified the Irish Times of any deletion of links to its articles. A spokeswoman for RTÉ said it was not aware of any such notifications.

On a webform after the judgment, Google said that it would assess each request and “attempt to balance the privacy rights of the individual with the public’s right to know and distribute information”.