A recent EU decision by the Court of Justice of the European
Union (CJEU) has generated a lot of press since it involves a high
profile company - Google - and a tantalizing concept of a
"right to be forgotten". The story stems from the efforts
by a Spanish man to compel Google to remove search results that
referred to the man's prior financial history - in fact the
references were to bankruptcy-related notices published by a
Spanish newspaper years earlier. The online newspaper publication
remains in place, but the CJEU's decision touches on the
indexing and display of the results in a Google search, which refer
back to that online newspaper publication.
So what does this mean for Canada?
There has, as far as I am aware, no equivalent privacy-related
decision relating to removal of search results by search engines in
Canada. However, there are analogous rights in Canada for
individuals to compel an organization to correct or delete personal
information. And that would apply to the organization that has
"collected, used or disclosed" the personal
In Canada, PIPEDA does contemplate the correction of personal
information, the withdrawal of consent, and the deletion of
personal information that has been collected. Those provisions
still require the individual to make a request or a complaint in
order to get a remedy.
In that sense the EU organization (in the EU context) in
Google's position then has to decide on the merits of that
request or complaint, so the "right" may be subject to
the interpretation of these subjective questions by a Google
employee, considering all the different criteria that the EU
decision has listed.
In Canada (in the PIPEDA context), the organization does not
have to make the same kinds of assessments or value judgements -
the question is simply whether the individual is withdrawing
consent, or correcting information.
In the EU, the organization has to decide if "in all the
circumstances" the info appears to be "inadequate,
irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive" which requires
the exercise of a lot more judgement. And more scope for
How this is handled by Google, and how it may influence Canadian
decisions on requests for removal of personal information, remains
to be seen.
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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