'Right to be forgotten' festers as ICO and Google come to blows

About 200 whinge to info rights body over 'mismanaged' moans

Google is receiving a telling off from the UK's Information Commissioner's Office and may face legal action after failing to adequately respond to several so-called "right to be forgotten" requests.

The ICO told The Register that "since the details of the ruling were first announced, we have handled over 183 complaints from those unhappy with Google's response to their takedown request".

The ruling came a year ago and established an individual's right to demand that "search engines" purge themselves of information that complainants dislike.

The ICO estimates that Google has mismanaged individuals' requests to remove their information in a quarter of cases the search engine handled itself.

In around three quarters of these cases we have ruled that Google was correct to turn down an individual’s request to have the information removed.

This suggests that, for the most part, Google is getting the balance right between the protection of the individual’s privacy and the interest of internet users.

However, this still leaves a significant number of cases where we believe Google hasn't got it quite right and it has been asked to revise its decision.

In many cases it has done so.

The Register did ask the ICO whether a comment suggesting that Google is "getting the balance right" might be a little too kind, considering its own findings indicate Google has been a little naughty in a quarter of cases. The ICO has not yet responded to that.

The independent UK body set up to uphold information rights also says it will now be looking to resolve the 48 remaining cases "through discussion and negotiation with Google, though we have enforcement powers available to us if required".

David Smith, the deputy commish, was notably critical about Google in the The Times, however, saying that as "with any data controller, we try and resolve the complaint by a process of discussion and negotiation first before we resort to our legal powers [but] at some point, we’ll have to reach a decision as to whether we pursue any [cases] where Google doesn’t agree with us, through formal action. That’s enforcement action." ®

Readers' Problems

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