16 November 2015

Spanish Supreme Court Denies "Right to be Forgotten" in Digital Media, But Not For Search Engines (via IAJGS Records Access Alert)

Here is another example of a post accessible via the IAJGS Records Access Alert emails. Details on how to access these alerts provided after the article.

This and many issues related to records “access” often come down to privacy versus freedom of information. 

Another loss for search engines containing factual information-even if not current information.

On October 19, 2015 the Spanish Supreme Court in a ruling rejected a petition to have EL PAÍS  remove information from its online archive that the petitioners viewed as detrimental to them.  In the ruling, the justices said newspapers were not under the obligation to alter their archives in order to delete all references to the names of these individuals.

However, the ruling also said the newspapers have a responsibility to ensure that this information cannot be “easily” accessed through online search engines.

The story goes back 20 years to 1985 when EL PAÍS published a story about two people arrested on a drug trafficking charge. The article included information on their arrest, imprisonment and personal circumstances.  This was before the world wide web existed. But in 2009, when the two people had served their time and their criminal records erased they found that some of the top search engines, such as Google led to the old newspaper stories. While lower jurisdiction courts found in favor of  the plaintiffs to have the information not only not searchable but removed from the newspaper’s archives, the appeal to the Supreme Court  rejected the need to alter the archive, but upheld the search engine ruling  The Supreme Court said: ” The so-called right to be forgotten cannot entail a retrospective censorship of information that was originally published correctly.” OId news can’t be cancelled or altered as “digital archives are protected by freedom of information as they satisfy a public interest.”

This is another example of the continuing debate between the United States’ first amendment rights vs the European Union’s contention that privacy trumps the freedom of information.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

What do you think? Did the court get it right?  Should privacy prevail?  Should there be limits to Freedom of Information?

Accessing the IAJGS Records Access Alerts ...

Registration and a listing of your organization affiliation (genealogy society, etc.) may now go to: http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/listinfo/records-access-alerts. You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.

[Editor’s note -- When you sign up, if you are doing so as an individual and not as a representative of an organization, please list Upfront with NGS or NGS as your affiliation.]
[Editor’s note – if you do not reply to this email, you will NOT be subscribed]
[Editor’s note – you can select to get a daily digest mode vs real-time posts]

For those who may wish to access the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alerts, go to:http://lists.iajgs.org/mailman/private/records-access-alerts/. You must be registered to access the archives.

Editor’s Note: Access the first post in this ongoing series was IAJGS Public Records Access Alerts Now Available to Any Interested Person + EU Privacy Win

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