The Associated Press reports on the issue of the “right to be forgotten,” which is being debated in the European Union:
Their ranks include a plastic surgeon, a prison guard and a high school principal. All are Spanish, but have little else in common except this: They want old Internet references about them that pop up in Google searches wiped away.
In a case that Google Inc. and privacy experts call a first of its kind, Spain’s Data Protection Agency has ordered the search engine giant to remove links to material on about 90 people. The information was published years or even decades ago but is available to anyone via simple searches.
Scores of Spaniards lay claim to a “Right to be Forgotten” because public information once hard to get is now so easy to find on the Internet. Google has decided to challenge the orders and has appealed five cases so far this year to the National Court. […]
In all cases, the plaintiffs petitioned the agency individually to get information about them taken down. And while Spain is backing the individuals suing to get links taken down, experts say a victory for the plaintiffs could create a troubling precedent by restricting access to public information. […]
Google regularly receives pleas asking that it remove links to embarrassing information from its search index or least ensure the material is buried in the back pages of its results. The company, based in Mountain View, Calif., almost always refuses in order to preserve the integrity of its index.
A final decision on Spain’s case could take months or even years because appeals can be made to higher courts. Still, the ongoing fight in Spain is likely to gain more prominence because the European Commission this year is expected to craft controversial legislation to give people more power to delete personal information they previously posted online.