Dereferencing requests are a powerful tool against the use of inaccurate information although such requests are often met with resistance by search engines. Things may now change given a recent decision from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the “Right to erasure (“right to be forgotten”) that “The operator of a search engine must dereference information found in the referenced content where the person requesting dereferencing proves that such information is manifestly inaccurate”.
If a person can prove that information is false then that should therefore be sufficient to ensure removal. The key question is the level of proof that is needed. The ECJ has now made it clear, following a request from the German Federal Court of Justice for guidance on the interpretation of the General Data Protection Regulation, that people need to “provide only evidence that can reasonably be required”
Louise Prince, Senior Associate in the Firm’s Reputation Protection and Privacy Team said “This should in theory make it easier for false results to be removed, especially as it is now clear a court decision is not needed. It will be interesting to see how Google and other search engines respond to future requests”.
The background to this case is that two managers at a group of investment companies, asked Google to remove search results based on their names which linked them to articles, which they said contained inaccurate claims, criticising the group’s investment model. Also photos of the pair came up in image searches in the form of thumbnails when an image search was carried out on Google. Google initially refused to remove the search results on the basis that it was unaware of the alleged inaccuracy of the information contained in the articles.
The ECJ Judgment can be found here: