Google has been hit with a 'remove or else' order by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) over links to stories in some online media archives.
It is the first public enforcement notice served by the ICO since the 'right to be forgotten' was introduced by the European Court of Justice last year. It is likely to affect links to content in media archives and the 'public right to know'.
Earlier this year, an individual in the UK asked Google to remove a link to a story in a newspaper's archive about their conviction for a minor offence ten years ago.
Google complied, but the newspaper published a story about the removal, including details of the original conviction, which was spent under the Rehabiliation Act. Other media also published articles about it, too.
The individual asked Google ro remove links to the new story, but they refused, saying they were relevant, and published in the public interest. So the individual appealed to the ICO.
The ICO ruled against Google. David Smith, the ICO Deputy Commissioner said that the individual was not involved in public life. The story breached their privacy and was likely to cause them distress, and the original conviction was not current.
Smith added that the commissioner accepted the search results related to journalistic content and were both newswsorthy, and in the public interest. But the public interest could be served without a search using the complainant's name revealing the conviction.
Google has 35 days to remove the offending links or risk further enforcement action, and Google is appealing the decision.
If it loses the appeal, the media's tactic of circumcumenting 'right to be forgotten' rulings by publishing new articles about them will be seriously impaired.