Google “Forget Me” Tool Highlights Importance of Data Laws to Businesses

The news of Google’s implementation of an individual’s right to be forgotten can hardly have been missed over recent weeks, following a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice.  This right enables an individual to require a data controller to take all reasonable steps to make sure that their personal data is erased.

The ECJ has ruled that people can demand that any search results which may infringe on their privacy be taken down (e.g. if their personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purposes for which it was collected) and therefore the right is not simply about erasing past events or restricting freedom of the press.  Even if the initial processing of the data was lawful, in the course of time its processing may become unlawful and the data inaccurate and therefore incompatible with the legislation.  Such inadequacies are what enable an individual to exercise their right to be forgotten.

Whilst Google and other search engines alike cannot control what information is published on the websites they enable us to easily access, they do control the information that they display on their results pages.  The search engines say that they merely offer links to the information that is otherwise freely available on the internet; however, search engines are in effect handling personal data as searches enable the linking together of various pieces of publicly available information.  Search engines are being asked to take measures to reduce access to the personal data accessible via their results, requiring them to edit their searches making them compliant with European legislation.

The steps being taken by the search engines highlights the wider importance for businesses to be aware of what personal data they are obtaining and how it is processed.  Businesses need to make it clear to those from whom they obtain personal data as to the reasons why it is being obtained and the purposes for which it shall be processed.  Having an adequate Privacy Policy in place is therefore of fundamental importance for businesses to achieve this data protection compliance and avoid being the subject of sanctions from the Information Commissioner’s Office.

For assistance on the production of a Privacy Policy, data protection compliance or other business related queries contact the Forbes Solicitors Business Law Department on 0800 037 4628 or send an email enquiry using out Contact Form.

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