Guidelines for Removing News Articles from Google Search

After the decision of the Court of justice of the European Union Judgement on “Google Spain and Inc V. Agencia Española de Protecciòn de Datos (AEPD) and Mario Costeja Gonzàlez”, a series of guidelines for Removing News Articles from Google Search and other Search engines were implemented. Search engines like Google Search, in fact, are considered data controllers as they process personal data. Whenever a user asks for the removal of a personal content, information or news, a balance between the fundamental rights of privacy of the data subject and the internet users’ interest in having access to information has to be achieved, even if the first one prevails over the latter and over the economic interest of the search engine. In general, we can say that this balance depends on the nature and on the sensitivity of the processed data and on the interest of the public in having access to this information (for example, it would be greater if it deals with a role in public life).

Most important criteria taken into consideration when removing a news article from Search Engine results

After the decision on 13 May 2014 of the CJEU, it has been claimed that users can request search engines to de-list specific personal information affecting their privacy, under certains conditions. A list of criteria have been therefore listed as a flexible working tool when handling such complaints, which will be applied in accordance with the relevant national legislation. Among the most common criteria taken into consideration during this analysis, there are the relation of the search result to a natural person, the appearance of the search result against a search on the data subject’s name. Moreover, the search engine will analyse whether the data subject plays a role in the public life, which would justify public access to information and so would be an exception for de-listing news articles. On the contrary, removal requests will often be accepted when the data subject is a minor.

Accuracy and relevance of personal news articles: other UE criteria and guidelines

Talking about the data nature and aspect, the most common criteria will be their accuracy, relevance and the presence of factual information: as a general rule, news articles containing personal opinions (and not a matter of fact), irrelevant and excessive information, hate speech, slander, libel or similar offences will be de-listed. Furthermore, if the data is not up to date, it is being made available for longer than is necessary for the purpose of the processing, it causes prejudice to the data subject or it puts him at risk, there will be legitimate grounds to the news de-listing. Finally, the context in which the information was published is taken into consideration: they analyse whether the content was voluntarily made public by the data subject, whether the content was intended to be made public, whether it was published with journalistic purposes and whether the data publisher had the legal power to make the personal news available.