Search engines must remove "manifestly inaccurate" information from search results

Matthew Howe  06-01-2023

A new European court decision could help make it easier for people to persuade search engines to remove unwanted search results. 

In December 2022, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruled that search engines must de-reference information found to be “manifestly inaccurate”.

The case (C‑460/20) involved two investment managers that had applied to Google to remove search results which criticised investment models that their group of investment companies were using. The managers argued that the information was untrue, but Google had refused to take any action. The case was brought before the German Federal Court of Justice which requested guidance from the CJEU on general data protection regulation.

The CJEU ruled that “the operator of a search engine must dereference information found in the referenced content where the person requesting dereferencing proves that such information is manifestly inaccurate.”

This will come as a major win for those seeking to use the right to be forgotten to remove search results containing inaccurate information about themselves. It is the responsibility of the individual making the application to prove that the information is “manifestly inaccurate” but they only have to provide that using evidence that they could be reasonably expected to find.

The search engine is not required to carry out any investigations itself to determine whether the information is “manifestly inaccurate” but it must take into consideration the evidence provided by the applicant.

There may still be some debate in the courts in future about what "manifestly inaccurate" actually means, but for the time being, if an applicant for the right to be forgotten has evidence that material which has been published about them is simply wrong, then they should be successful in blocking that material. 

If you can see unwanted results appearing in a search of your name, contact us today to find out how we can help you with the right to be forgotten.

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