Articles

Google wins appeal in first Dutch 'Right to be Forgotten' case

Google wins appeal in first Dutch 'Right to be Forgotten' case

Google wins appeal in first Dutch 'Right to be Forgotten' case

30.04.2015

This case briefly stated that Google is bound to remove certain search results should a person request Google to do so. A person can file such a request when he is of the opinion that these results can no longer be considered adequate or relevant, or when the processing of such search results is excessive and subsequently infringes the privacy of the respective person.

This European case has had great consequences for Google; the search engine has since received almost 240,000 requests and has evaluated more than 865,000 URLs. If Google refuses to remove certain search results, one can start legal proceedings on a national level.

In the Netherlands, one of the first cases dealt with by the national courts regarding the “Right to be Forgotten” was the case of a Dutch escort boss, X. X was sentenced to six years in prison in 2012 following a failed attempt to procure the murder of a competing escort boss. He gave very detailed instructions to an assassin, who, unbeknownst to X, was secretly filming the entire conversation. The hit-man proceeded to give the footage to Peter R. de Vries, a crime journalist, who aired the tape during an episode of his very popular true-crime TV show. Due to the mass media attention, an author also decided to write a criminal novel about the case, proclaiming it “faction”, a combination of fact and fiction. X is currently awaiting the appeal of his criminal procedure and claims that he is unable to pick up his day-to-day life, due to the fact that if you Google him, search results about the criminal case, the TV show and the book pop-up. He has filed a request for Google to remove certain search results and that Google’s auto-complete feature abstains from automatically connecting him to the TV show and the novel. X believes that Google actively manipulates the search results with no other aim than to harm him. Google should generally refrain from any infringement on X’s privacy. In first instance, the District Court rejected X’s requests. The Court is of the opinion that X has committed a serious crime which has led to a huge amount of publicity. The Court states that the Costeja-case does not aim to protect a person from all negative information published on the internet, but that a person should be protected from being haunted by irrelevant or unnecessary defamatory posts. The Court also believes that the search results relating to X’s criminal offences cannot be considered irrelevant and that the connection via autocomplete with Peter R. de Vries is logical. The right of freedom of information outweighs the right of privacy of X.

The ruling of the District Court is confirmed in appeal. The Court of Appeal states that although X is still awaiting the appeal in his criminal procedure, he has submitted no information which detracts from the existence of this conviction. The online publications are therefore the result of his own conduct. It is in the public interest that information about serious crimes, and consequently about the prosecution and conviction of X, can be accessed. X has not been able to prove that Google manipulates the search results. Furthermore, X has not contested the fact that the search results generated via the auto-complete feature are based on the number of times users have entered certain search results. There is no evidence that Google has deliberately caused damage to X and X has not argued that the auto-complete feature generates additional search results that would harm him. The general ground of appeal that Google should refrain from infringing X’s privacy is too broad and has been rejected. The Court’s lesson for X is clear: if you play with fire, you are going to get burned.

Source: Court of Appeal Amsterdam, 31 March 2015, ECLI:NL:AMS:2015:1223

Click here for a PDF version of the 51st edition of our ICT Law Newsletter.

Team

Related news

22.07.2021 NL law
Towards a European legal framework for the development and use of Artificial Intelligence

Short Reads - Back in 2014, Stephen Hawking said, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” Although the use of artificial intelligence is nothing new and dates back to Alan Turing (the godfather of computational theory), prominent researchers – along with Stephen Hawking – have expressed their concerns about the unregulated use of AI systems and their impact on society as we know it.

Read more

19.07.2021 BE law
One year of Schrems II: a state of affairs for international data transfers

Articles - International data transfers have been the subject of intense debates ever since the Court of Justice issued its landmark judgement of Schrems I, on 6 October 2015. The intensity of the debate was further reinforced since the Schrems II decision one year ago, on 16 July 2020. The decision annulled the U.S. Privacy Shield and severely tightened the rules on the use of standard contractual clauses (“SCCs”).

Read more

18.05.2021 NL law
Kroniek: De bestuursrechtelijke aspecten van de AVG

Articles - Tom Barkhuysen, Steven Bastiaans en Fatma Çapkurt (Universiteit Leiden) schreven samen de eerste editie van de nieuwe jaarlijkse NTB kroniek: de bestuursrechtelijke aspecten van de AVG. Hierin bespreken zij onder meer de meest relevante (bestuursrechtelijke) jurisprudentie van het afgelopen jaar op het gebied van de AVG.

Read more

18.06.2021 NL law
FAQ: Wat houdt het Wetsvoorstel elektronische gegevensuitwisseling in de zorg (Wegiz) in en wat is de verhouding tot de AVG?

Short Reads - (Digitale) gegevensuitwisseling in de zorg is een actueel thema. Illustratief is een item bij EenVandaag van april 2021 waarin de analoge werkwijze bij gegevensuitwisseling in de zorg wordt aangekaart, maar ook dit artikel in het NRC van afgelopen maand waarin verslag werd gedaan van een datalek waardoor duizenden gevoelige patiëntgegevens op straat kwamen te liggen. 

Read more

04.05.2021 NL law
Participatie en privacyregels: hoe te combineren onder de Omgevingswet?

Short Reads - In het stelsel van de Omgevingswet (Ow) is een belangrijke rol bedacht voor participatie bij de totstandkoming van besluiten. Het beoogde resultaat: tijdig belangen, meningen en creativiteit op tafel krijgen en daarmee een groter draagvlak en kwalitatief betere besluitvorming bereiken. Door een grotere betrokkenheid van meer personen gaan overheden en initiatiefnemers ook meer persoonsgegevens verwerken. Dit brengt privacyrisico’s met zich mee. Wat regelt de Ow op het gebied van privacy, de verwerking van persoonsgegevens en datagebruik?

Read more