The top European Union court announced a landmark ruling that will further the discussion about “right to be forgotten” Internet laws. We’ll explain the meat of the ruling and explore how it could affect online defamation victims.
What Is The Best Way To Get Defamatory Material Removed From The Internet?
The best way to mitigate an online defamation wound is to get the offending material removed from the website on which it sits. But, if you can’t expunge it completely, the (very close) second best option is to get the libelous info erased from search engine databases. That way, if someone pumps your name or business into Google or Yahoo! or Bing, the reputation damaging webpage won’t show up in results.
How Easy Is It To Get Libelous Content Removed From Search Engine Indexes in the United States?
How easy is it to get defamatory content removed from search engine results in the U.S.? It depends on the facts of your situation. It’s possible to get a court order compelling a search engine to remove material, but in order to do so, one must first prove defamation.
If your lawsuit is in the beginning stages, you can sometimes get a temporary restraining order compelling website operators to remove material during the course of litigation.
How Easy Is It To get Libelous Content Removed From Search Engine Indexes in the European Union?
United States citizens may enjoy more free speech rights than our European counterparts, but their online privacy laws are a whole lot stricter than ours.
In May 2014, the European Court of Justice announced a landmark ruling regarding unflattering search engine content. In 1998, a man living in Spain suffered a reversal of fortune. He has since turned things around for the better. But when you pump his name into Google, his nearly 20-year-old house foreclosure is still front and center.
The man’s woes, though, will soon be over, because the EU Court said Google has to remove the information about his decades-old financial troubles from their index.
The Right to Be Forgotten v. The Right To Erasure
People on the “legal beat” are calling the new European online privacy stance “the right to be forgotten.” Officials in Europe, however, are taking it one step further and calling for a “right to erasure” law, which would allow individuals control over personal online information that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed and in the light of the time that has elapsed.”
Will The EU Right To Be Forgotten Ruling Affect The U.S. Tech Industry?
The EU’s right to be forgotten ruling will cost search engines money – lots of it. Why? They’ll have to implement new procedures to comply with the legal standard, as well as hire a slew of attorneys to focus on related issues.
And there is another concern – censorship. According to the Computer & Communications Industry Association, whose membership ranks include Facebook Inc., Yahoo, Google, and Microsoft, said about the EU right to be forgotten ruling:
“[It] opens the door to large scale private censorship in Europe,” adding that “our concern is it could also be misused by politicians or others with something to hide who could demand to have information taken down.”
Can U.S. Businesses ‘Take Advantage’ of the new EU Right To Be Forgotten?
Are you reading and wondering, “I wonder if I, a U.S. citizen, can somehow make the new EU ruling work for me? There is some unsightly information about me on the Web, and I’d really like it gone.”
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t simple and depends on whether or not you have any ties to Europe.
If you’re curious if you qualify to take action under the new European “right to be forgotten” standard, contact Kelly / Warner. We’ve successfully handled countless online defamation removal cases. We can help you, too.
Get in touch today to learn more about your legal options regarding the right to be forgotten laws.