Google, Spain Battle Over Privacy

Part of a Europe-wide debate over the 'right to be forgotten'
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 7, 2011 2:02 AM CST
A lawyer for Google, Javier Aparicio, left, speaks in court in Madrid in January in a privacy case involving links to a 20-year-old medical dispute.   (AP Photo, Gustavo Cuevas, Pool)

(Newser) – A Spanish plastic surgeon has complained to Spanish regulators that a Google search of his name still turns up a dispute over a botched operation covered by El Pais 20 years ago. It's one of 80 "privacy invasion" cases in which Spanish authorities have told Google to remove personal information from its search engine results, reports the Wall Street Journal. Spanish courts heard five related cases earlier this year, but they're now moving on to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to clarify European privacy laws.

Google says that Spain's strict privacy laws are too excessive, and that it is the only EU country that calls for links to be removed over privacy issues, even when they connect to pages that do not contain any illegal information. But with the EU in the midst of rewriting its 15-year-old rules on data protection, many are calling for a "right to be forgotten," which would allow individuals to delete private information from the Web. "God forgives and forgets," said an EU commissioner last year. "But the Web never does."

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