Italy's Privacy Authority orders Google removals

Italy's Privacy Authority has ordered the first removals of Web pages from Google's search engine under the provisions of last May's European Court of Justice ruling on the "right to be forgotten."

The authority said it had received nine requests for Google de-indexation from individuals who had applied unsuccessfully for allegedly defamatory information to be removed from the search engine. In two cases, it had upheld the request to be forgotten, the authority said in its newsletter Monday.

In one case, the authority ordered Google to remove access to material published on a website because, in part, the information "referred to people who were unconnected to the judicial case being described." In the second successful appeal, the Privacy Authority ordered de-indexation because the information was liable "to injure the private sphere of the person" in question.

The authority cited Italy's privacy code, which states that personal information can be published if it is essential for the public interest and provided that it does not describe the sexual habits of an identifiable individual.

In the remaining seven cases the Authority rejected the requesters' appeals, ruling that Google's position was correct and the public interest outweighed the personal desire for privacy. The information concerned court cases that were either recent or still under judicial review, the Authority said.

The Italian Privacy Authority is currently considering several dozen privacy appeals concerning the Google search engine, the newsletter said.

Google said Tuesday it had seen a decline in de-indexation requests from governments and courts worldwide in the second half of 2013, with the figure going down from 3,846 to 3,105. The number of requests from Turkey had declined, while those from Russia and Italy had increased, it said. The figure from Italy had increased from 33 to 65.

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