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Supreme Administrative Court confirmed Deputy Data Protection Ombudsman's decision and obliged Google to remove links from search results

Publication date 20.3.2024 11.21 | Published in English on 4.4.2024 at 15.19
Press release

The Supreme Administrative Court has issued a decision on the right to be forgotten under the General Data Protection Regulation. The Supreme Administrative Court found that the Deputy Data Protection Ombudsman was within their rights in ordering Google to delete links to certain news media articles from its search results.

A person had asked Google to delete several search result links coming up with the person's name from its search engine. The links lead to articles published in 2010, which say that the person is wanted by the police. Google refused to remove the links.

In June 2020, the Deputy Data Protection Ombudsman ordered Google to comply with the person's request. The Deputy Ombudsman found that the articles' main subject was the warrant of apprehension sent out on the person, and not so much the offences on which the warrant was based. The warrant had expired in the spring of 2011, so the availability of this information was no longer justified. The administrator of a search engine can be requested to remove links from its search results when their visibility cannot be considered to be justified any more, for example due to the passage of time.

The Helsinki Administrative Court had overturned the Deputy Data Protection Ombudsman's decision due to Google's appeal, but the Supreme Administrative Court agreed with the Deputy Ombudsman's position and overruled the Administrative Court decision. The Supreme Administrative Court weighed the public's right to information against the individual's right to privacy and the protection of their personal data. In the assessment of the Supreme Administrative Court, Google had not presented sufficient justifications for why the public's right to obtain the information when searching with the person's name would have superseded the individual's right to privacy and the protection of their personal data. The Court also found that the articles could still be found on the news medias' websites and by using the search engine with other search terms. Removing the links from the search results thus has a relatively minor impact on the public's right to information.

Further information: Data Protection Ombudsman Anu Talus, anu.talus(at), tel. +358 29 566 6766

Supreme Administrative Court Decision KHO:2024:34 on the Supreme Administrative Court website (in Finnish)

Decision of the Deputy Data Protection Ombudsman, 3 June 2020 (PDF, in Finnish)

Frequently asked questions about the erasure of search results

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