EU court says Google must remove links to personal data if it's asked to

Google's recent run of bad luck in Europe has reached new heights after it was told it must take down links to personal information found in its search results. The Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) today ruled that Google should be made responsible for processing links to personal data which appears on third-party websites, so it must allow users to request that outdated or irrelevant information be removed. Google has long argued that such a ruling amounts to censorship, but Europe's top court agrees with the European Commission's belief that people should have the "right to be forgotten."

The ruling came after a Spanish man complained to local regulators that Google had indexed an auction notice on his home from 1998. Google refused to delete the information, so the ECJ was asked to step in. The court says users who want to remove their name from search providers' results can "approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results." We've reached out to Google for comment and will report back once we receive a response.

Update: Google has commented on the ruling, calling it a "disappointing decision" for search engines and online publishers:

This is a disappointing decision for search engines and online publishers in general. We are very surprised that it differs so drastically from the Advocate General and the warnings and the consequences we identified. We will spend time, from this moment, to analyze the implications of that decision.

[Image credit: European Parliament, Flickr]