Madrid: A Spanish court on Friday partially accepted Google’s appeal against a ruling ordering it to erase news articles about a psychologist accused of sexual abuse, but said the search engine must show stories about his acquittal first.
The unidentified man was tried and cleared of three counts of sexual abuse, for which he faced a possible jail term of 27 years.
Spain’s Data Protection Agency in 2017 ruled in favor of his bid to have Google remove news stories relating to the case that appeared when his name was typed into it, telling the search engine to block eight of 10 contested story links.
But Google appealed and on Friday, the National Court ruled that freedom of expression took precedence over personal data protection, although it said the search engine should ensure the more recent stories of his acquittal.
It said that because of the man’s profession, “there is a legitimate interest on the part of internet users to have access to said information, which was published in local media”.
The court added had also based its ruling on the fact that the news stories were published “relatively recently”, and not outdated.
Google had argued the articles were in the “public interest” and that access to them should be protected by freedom of speech laws. It also maintained they were of current interest so the right to data protection should not apply in this case.
In 2014 the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) ordered Google and other search engines that operate in Europe to allow individuals to ask the sites to delist certain search results relating to a person’s name if the information is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive in relation to the purposes of the processing”.
Google has said it evaluates each request on a “case-by-case basis”. The company says it weighs the public interest when determining when to remove a link.