Friday, July 8, 2011

Spanish Court Tells ISPs to Shut Off the Limelight

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JUNE 26:  Bullfighter Seraf...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeAn interesting post by the reports on a case in Spain that highlights the different approach European courts take to defamation and privacy cases than their American counterparts.

Google was ordered by a court in Spain to remove from its index information about a private individual. Specifically, in 1991, an article critical of plastic surgeon Dr. Hugo Guidotti Russo was published by a Spanish newspaper concerning a dispute with a patient. The article in question did not assess the merits of the patient's complaint or address the resolution of the claim.

Dr. Russo, backed by the Spanish Data Protection Agency("SDPA") and a Spanish court, sought the removal of the decade-old article by Google, which he claimed detracted from his on-going medical practice when it surfaced in Google searches. Google screamed censorship and refused to do so. Whereas in the U.S., there is no expiration date once an individual is in the limelight as a public figure, Spain, as do many of its European Union compadres, abide by a doctrine known as "the right to be forgotten."

Interestingly, the SDPA previously has exempted Internet Service Providers from coverage by Spain's freedom of expression laws that protect newspapers and other publications. Google contends the onus should be on publications that provide Internet content to embed coding alerting ISPs not to index the data.
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