AMSTERDAM — People should have some say over the results that pop up when they conduct a search of their own name online, Europe's highest court said Tuesday.
In a landmark decision, The Court of Justice of the European Union said Google must listen and sometimes comply when individuals ask the Internet search giant to remove links to newspaper articles or websites containing personal information.
Campaigners say the ruling effectively backs individual privacy rights over the freedom of information.
In an advisory judgment stemming from a lawsuit against Google that will impact on all search engines, including Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing, the court said a search on a person's name yields a results page that amounts to an individual profile, one that a person has some right to control over under European privacy laws. As such, the court said, people should be able to ask to have links to private information removed. That's true even when a non-Google website is still hosting the information.
In the ruling, the court said people "may address such a request directly to the operator of the search engine ... which must then duly examine its merits." In addition, it said search engines must weigh "the legitimate interest of Internet users potentially interested in having access to that information" against the right to privacy and protection of personal data.
When an agreement can't be reached, the Luxembourg-based court said, the matter can be referred to a local judge or regulator.