By JMP Solicitors, Apr 13 2018 03:42PM
Earlier today (13 April) , Mr Justice Mark Warby gave further guidance during a ruling in the High Court on an individual’s right to exercise the ‘right to be forgotten’.
This concept initially came from a ruling in the European Court of Justice in 2014, where a Spanish citizen successfully forced Google to remove information with regards to his financial background; this included links to further webpages and news articles. The precedent set, was that if the information is no longer relevant, then an individual can force the company holding this information to delete it.
Today’s High Court ruling focused on two different individuals; one successful in their claim and one unsuccessful. Claimant A was a businessman convicted over 10 years ago for conspiring to intercept communications and was sentenced to six months in jail, and Claimant B who was also a businessman convicted over 10 years ago for conspiring to account falsely and subsequently spent four years in jail.
Both Claimant’s argued that information regarding their convictions should be removed from the Google search engine, as it was no longer relevant. Google defended the claim, on the grounds that they believed it was in the public’s interest that this information continued to be accessible on the Google platform.
Whilst it is true that organisations can refuse to ‘forget’ your personal information on the grounds of public interest (this will continue to be the position even after the implementation of GDPR), Mr Justice Mark Warby provided further guidance on what actually is in the public interest.
Claimant A was successful in their claim and it was heard that this individual had shown remorse for their historic crimes, no longer continuing with these actions. It was for this reason that the Judge found this information was no longer relevant and was not in the public interest for Google to hold.
For Claimant B however, it was heard that individual continued to ‘mislead the public’ since the original conviction. It was therefore the ruling of the Judge, that it was in the public interest that this individual’s convictions were available on Google, and that Google had a legitimate reason to not remove that individual’s personal data from their search engine.
This ruling has given clear guidance on what would be classified as in the public interest and will give organisations a view as to whether or not they can be justified in refusing to ‘forget’ and individual’s data.