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Google decision - good for gangstas, but not in New Zealand

20 May 2014

​A decision by the European Court of Justice, which allows people to request that internet information is pulled if historic or no longer relevant, has been seized upon by European criminals to have Google remove links to their criminal records.

The judgment is interesting but is unlikely to bear on the legal position in New Zealand.

The case

Google Spain SL Google Inc.v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos (AEPD) Mario Costeja González was brought by a Spanish national who complained to Google Spain and Google Inc. about personal information dating back 16 years which was available through the Google search engine. 

The Court found that Google had a responsibility to erase on request links and information incompatible with EU Directive 95/46/EC protecting an individual’s right to privacy. 

This finding changes the legal landscape in Europe, and in the week following last Tuesday’s ruling Google received a number of requests to take down information.

Worth watching

New Zealand’s Privacy Act does not currently recognise “data processors”, as the EU directive does.  But it is worth watching developments in Europe because changes in the law or in legal interpretation there may eventually influence thinking here. 

In the meantime, the Harmful Digital Communications Bill is expected to create an agency to advocate for New Zealand individuals wishing to remove digital content hosted by search engine and social media providers in cyberbullying situations. 

The Bill is due to be reported back from the Justice and Electoral Committee on 3 June.    

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