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People in Europe can now ask Google to delete sensitive information from its internet search results, a European court ruled on Tuesday.
The European Union Court of Justice ruled that people should have “the right to be forgotten,” which includes erasing traces of their digital past from the internet.
The ruling was sparked by a complaint from a man in Spain, who claimed to the Spanish data-protection agency that an auction notice of his repossessed home that appeared in Google’s search results infringed his privacy.
Mario Costeja Gonzalez initially filed the complaint in March 2010 against Google Inc., Google Spain, and a major Spanish newspaper that had published an announcement regarding the auction notice in 1998, according to court documents published by the European Union Court of Justice.
Gonzalez’s situation is one of 180 in Spain in which complainants have requested Google delete their personal information from the web, Reuters reports.
Here’s what the court papers say in regard to requesting that information be removed from Google:
If, following a search made on the basis of a person’s name, the list of results displays a link to a web page which contains information on the person in question, that data subject may approach the operator directly and, where the operator does not grant his request, bring the matter before the competent authorities in order to obtain, under certain conditions, the removal of that link from the list of results.
Viviane Reding, European commissioner for justice of fundamental rights and citizenship, posted to Facebook that the ruling is a success for personal data protection.