European Court of Justice’s landmark Google ruling

The European Court of Justice's last-week landmark ruling, which paved the way for Internet users' "right to be forgotten" on the search engines, is expected to have far-reaching consequences for Google and other search engines, as well as for Internet publishers in general.

In its ruling, in the case instituted by Costeja Gonzalez against Google Inc and Google Spain, essentially gives the Internet users' the right to seek the removal of their personal data from the list of results of a search engine.

According to the court, Internet users can request the search engines - like Google - for removal of personal information if the data which shows up in search links is inaccurate or not relevant any more. The court ruled that there is no good reason for such personal information to remain available online.

The crux of the court's ruling is that when an Internet user feels that results displayed by a search engine are inadequate, irrelevant or excessive in relation to the purpose for which the information was collected - and in light of time lapse -, the user can request the search engine for the removal of the information and the related links.

The court's ruling implies that an Internet users' right to privacy overrides the search engine's economic interests, as well as the legitimate interests which other Internet users may have in the information being removed.