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The right to be forgotten and Google: everything you need to know to exercise it

Forgetting on the web can be just as difficult as in the non-virtual world. However, it is not an impossible task, at least not in search engines such as Google. There have been several cases of people who have seen their right to privacy and honor violated, due to publications that affect their image or that do not correspond in time to the real circumstances. 

Everything that can be displayed in a search engine after typing in someone's name does not always cause satisfaction. Some people have had their integrity harmed by being accused, by mistake, of committing crimes. When this information reaches the network, as it usually happens nowadays with practically everything that happens, it is fixed in that space and it is difficult to remove it, even if the facts have been sufficiently clarified.

The right to be forgotten and Google

In 2014 the number of such cases began to proliferate and there was one case that achieved a legal victoryThe Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that Google users can request the technology giant to remove or not to index search results containing their names and surnames, in case these are degrading to their dignity and image.

This failure had a first and last nameIt has been a frequently requested remedy when the owner of a personal data wants to erase, block or delete such data because they somehow affect the free development of their fundamental rights, such as privacy, honor and self-image. It is also requested when the information published on the network is obsolete and is no longer useful for the purposes for which it was collected.

According to the Spanish Data Protection Agency, this figure refers to the right of a citizen to prevent the dissemination of personal information through the Internet.when its publication does not meet the requirements of adequacy and relevance provided for in the regulations. The same applies to data whose relevance is no longer of public interest and, on the contrary, harms the integrity of the data owner. 

One of the limitations to the fulfillment of this data protection guaranteehas been the fundamental right to information. In this sense, the resolution indicates that if the publication of personal data is not necessary for the information to maintain the character of news and public relevance, it will have a direct impact on the protection of personal data.

In the 2014 complaint that gave rise to the right to be forgotten, the European Parliament argued. that the activity of a search engine such as Google of collecting information published by a third party on the Internet, indexing it automatically, storing it temporarily and making it available to all users, qualifies as processing of personal data when such information contains intimate data. Therefore, the search engine is obliged to remove from the list of results the links to web pages published by third parties that result from entering a person's name in the search engine.

For the time being, Google analyzes the data on an individual basis to assess whether the request proceeds to be applied the right to be forgotten. The final decision in each case is made by the technology giant.

These are some of the recommendations for requesting the right to be forgotten:

  • Review all information related to your name, as well as all information linked to it. Evaluate how easy it is to find the data on the Internet.
  • Select all the information you want to remove from the network.
  • Verify that your request meets the three established requirements: false information that violates fundamental rights, obsolete information and no public relevance.
  • Fill out the Google form to report cases and submit the request.
  • Wait for Google's response. If it is not satisfactory, the next step is to contact data protection agencies operating in your country.

At Alan Aldana & Abogados, we have accompanied our clients in the drafting of the request before Google, as well as before the data protection agencies, always recommending our clients to first request the right of rectification, before going to court.