If you want certain articles or court documents removed when your name is Googled—and you live in Europe—the search giant must comply, Europe's top court says. The ruling, which affects all search engines, focuses on privacy protection and the "right to be forgotten" in Europe, the Wall Street Journal reports. Even if the searchable information was released legally, Google can be "obliged to remove links" to it, the European Court of Justice said. That applies in most cases, "unless there are particular reasons, such as the role played by the data subject in public life, justifying a preponderant interest of the public.”
The ruling is a disappointment "for search engines and online publishers in general," Google says—not to mention a surprise, given officials' "dramatically" different preliminary decision. The case at hand dealt with a lawyer bothered by the appearance of legal information that appeared in an article in Google search results, the New York Times reports. The case, he said, had been settled and the information's availability violated his privacy. Europe's justice commissioner applauded the decision, Reuters reports. "Companies can no longer hide behind their servers being based in California or anywhere else in the world," she wrote.