“There are clear societal reasons why this kind of information should be publicly available. People shouldn't be prevented from learning that a politician was convicted of taking a bribe, or that a doctor was convicted of malpractice,” writes William Echikson, Google’s head of Free Expression for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, on an official Google blog. “The substantive question before the Court today is whether search engines should be obliged to remove links to valid legal material that still exists online.”
It all began when a Spanish man performed a vanity search, Googling his own name to see what popped up. To the man’s surprise, he found a link to an article from several years ago. The article detailed that a property he owned was up for auction since he had not paid his social security contributions. Now, this is just one of roughly 180 cases that Google has going on in Spain.
Mr. Echikson also writes in the company blog that Google already removes information that is found to be “incorrect, defamatory or otherwise illegal.” It’s important to note that an algorithm decides Google’s search results. Since the search engine giant does not monitor the algorithm beyond looking for information that is “incorrect, defamatory or otherwise illegal,” Google has no editorial position. As a result, Google cannot be hit with a libel lawsuit. This was the case argued in 2012 when Germany’s former first lady, Bettina Wulff, sued the Internet search giant.