A London businessman has taken Google to the High Court in London in an effort to get negative content about him expunged from search results what some claim is a landmark case over “the right to be forgotten”.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is challenging Google’s decision not to remove links to a criminal conviction from the Nineties for false accounting ; his conviction is deemed spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
Hugh Tomlinson, the lawyer representing the businessman, argued damaging information about his client can be found easily. He said: “Google facilitates information that would otherwise be hard to find.”
However, Google said it would “defend the public’s right to access lawful information” and that the content should remain in the public domain because the businessman is still running a public company.
“We work hard to comply with the right to be forgotten, but we take great care not to remove search results that are clearly in the public interest and will defend the public’s right to access lawful information,” the firm said in a statement.
The right to be forgotten is a legal precedent set by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014, following a case brought by a Spanish man. However, under GDPR, right to be forgotten will be extended to make it easier for consumers to have content removed.
The move comes as Google released figures to show it has received over 2.4 million requests to remove URLs from its search engine under the legislation since May 2014, of which it has sanctioned 43.3% or 1.04 million.
Of the reasons behind the requests, “professional information” tops the list at nearly a quarter (24%), followed by “self-authored” at 10%, and crime and professional wrongdoing at 8% and 7%, respectively.
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