Google loses "right to be forgotten" case.

Author: Gerard O' Dwyer

Google has found itself on the wrong end of a landmark Nordic legal case on the “right to be forgotten.”

Finland’s Supreme Court has ordered Google to remove from its search engine the personal data, including all connected URL links, of a convicted murderer.

Courts in Europe expect a surge in similar cases in the wake of the European Union’s (EU) rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May of this year.

The case against Google in Finland was brought under both the GDPR and the country’s strict personal privacy protection laws.

This was no ordinary legal test case. The subject of the court order was convicted of murder, and yet the Supreme Court determined that the man’s right to privacy was not diminished by his crime.

Furthermore, the court ruled that the removal of the convicted felon’s data from Google’s search engine didn’t infringe on the public’s right to information in this specific case, given that the accused was charged and found guilty of murder with “diminished responsibility,” a legal annex that enhances his data protection and personal privacy rights under the GDPR and Finnish law.

Finland’s Data Protection Ombudsman (DPO) took the case against Google to the country’s Supreme Court after the company refused a formal written petition to have the man’s personal information removed from its search engine. This information included certain facts regarding the murder case in 2012, the subsequent trial and his imprisonment.

Google, arguing its rights under freedom of speech laws, disputed the DPO’s contention that the man’s 11-year prison sentence constituted “inhuman suffering due to his mental impairment,” or that the information pertaining to his state of health available via Google searches risked causing irreparable damage to his personal well-being.

In an earlier legal action, Google had unsuccessfully tried to have the DPO’s “right to be forgotten” request rejected in Finland’s Administrative Court.