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Spanish Data Protection Agency force Google to 'forget'

Wed 10th Aug 2011

Spain's Government has upheld a complaint by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (SDPA) to force Google to delete information of around 90 individuals from its search engine.

The Government agrees with the SDPA that the individuals have a right to privacy and for the context in which these individuals are indexed to be 'forgotten'. Google have countered that requiring search engines to ignore certain information is an infringement of free speech.

The 90 complainants were all concerned that information about them was freely available on the search engine - in many cases some years after a particular incident whereby they may have featured in the news.

For over 350 years the Government has published an official gazette, which contains details of many members of the public, which has been available online for the past two years in an effort to improve transparency. It is written into Spanish law that this information should be freely available to all members of the public, but what is not clear is the duration in which the information has to be available for.

Google maintain that to limit this information is a serious infringement of free expression.

The European Commission has plans to discuss reform to current laws to reflect recent technological advances, as data protection laws currently used stem from the Data Protection Directive which was established in 1995.

The European Convention on Human Rights currently guarantees both the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression.

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