On May 13, 2014, the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) ruled against Google, imposing the implementation of the “right to be forgotten”. Since June 26, 2014, Google has begun dereferencing web pages at the request of its users. It is now the turn of other search engines to comply with the new European rule.
Though they have taken their time, the search engines Bing and Ask have decided to follow Google’s lead in enforcing the right to be forgotten. The implementation of this right by Ask and Bing ensues from users’ requests to have damaging content dereferenced by these search engines as well as Google. This controversial right was obviously meant to be applied by all search engines with a commercial activity in the EU.
In its factsheet on the case and this new right, the European Commission states that “individuals have the right – under certain conditions – to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them. This applies where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive for the purposes of the data processing (para 93 of the ruling)”.
As a reminder, the right to be forgotten is subject to a “case-by-case assessment […] considering the type of information in question, its sensitivity for the individual’s private life and the interest of the public in having access to that information”.
Though Google is the most popular search engine in Europe, it is essential that the others be subject to the same restrictions and obligations. But, once again, the right to be forgotten on all search engines raises issues regarding historical memory and censorship.