Google, Spain Clash in Court over Privacy

Spain’s data protection authority has demanded Google to remove links to nearly 100 articles from its search listings, and five of those disputed articles will be contested by the search engine’s legal team in a Madrid magistrates’ court this week.

Google argues that it only acts as an intermediary and can’t be held responsible for content published on other websites. The company also warns that censoring the links to the newspaper and gazette articles would have “a profound, chilling effect on free expression without protecting people’s privacy,” according to The Guardian.

Spain claims it’s trying to block access to “sensitive material” published on the sites.

If successful in court, Google won’t have to remove the links to the articles. However, even if Google loses and is forced to censor its search results, the articles will still be available on the websites.

“What’s worrying is why they should go to Google, rather than the people who are putting up this content – some of which is legally bound,” Padraig Reidy, news editor at Index on Censorship, told the Guardian. “It encroaches on privacy law, and has massive ramifications on freedom of expression and how the Internet works. If Spain is punishing search engines for indexing content how can there be freedom of expression? It looks like a plan by people who don’t know how the Internet works.”

Update: CNET reports that the cases involve the publication of administrative sanctions, notices of financial debt, and details of victims of domestic violence.

Also, the AP reports that in another instance, Google’s search results point to a story about a surgeon who accused of criminal negligence in 1991, rather than his acquittal.

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