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Cyber and Data Protection

The Right to be Forgotten

March 2016

 

The Irish Times reported on an address given by the Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, to a student legal convention in UCD on 2 March, where Ms Dixon discussed the “right to be forgotten” rule in relation to Google searches. 

A landmark decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014 against Google established that in certain circumstances individuals have the right to request that links returned in response to searches of their names by internet search engines be removed or “forgotten”. The Court made clear that this right is not absolute and there may be circumstances in which the public interest in having access to information outweighs the data subject’s right to privacy.

Ms Dixon told the convention that Google has had more than 4,000 requests since the ruling, and that each one had to be assessed on a case by case basis. Refusals can be appealed to the national data protection authority. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has received 55 appeals, involving Google, Yahoo and Bing, with 51 of these appeals against Google. In 30 cases the Data Protection Commissioner upheld the data controller’s decision to retain the link, and in 17 it upheld the complaint and requested the controller to delist the link. Ms Dixon also stated there are seven ongoing cases relating to the right to be forgotten and one which is being appealed to the Circuit Court. Ms Dixon also disclosed that a key witness to a recent and long standing tribunal had tried unsuccessfully to avail of the right to be forgotten and it was deemed to be in the public interest to retain the link. 

For more information contact Jennifer O' Sullivan at jennifer.osullivan@rdj.ie

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