Disappearing online

The ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (Curia, 2014) found that search engine operators are data controllers and that individuals have the right to ask them to remove certain search results on privacy grounds.

These include results that appear to be inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant, or excessive.

The recent European court ruling means dental professionals can apply to Google and other search engine operators to request the removal of certain results on privacy grounds.

However, it remains to be seen whether dental professionals who submit requests will be successful, given that decisions will be taken on a case by case basis, balancing the public interest with the right to privacy.

The actual web pages and documents will not be removed from the internet, only the opportunity to access them via a search engine link.

The judgment also only applies to EU countries.

Users may still be able to navigate to the particular page by using a different search term or the same search term entered into a search engine outside the EU.

Rupert Hoppenbrouwers, head of the DDU, which has issued advice over the implications of the ruling, said: 'Ultimately, the understandable desire to have a website link erased needs to be balanced against recognition that achieving this may not be the end of the matter and may itself attract comment.

'Dental members with queries about online criticism are welcome to contact us for advice.'


Curia (2014) Judgement of the court [Online] Available: http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=152065&amppageIndex=0&doclang=en&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=276332 [Accessed 17 July 2014].

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