derecho al olvido alt

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In its order of April 4, 2018, the Supreme Court (“SC”) further narrowed the meaning and scope of the right to be forgotten, confirming once again that it is not an absolute right. In this case, it refers to the circumstances in which the right to be forgotten should be applied, depending on whether the interested party is a public figure.

The controversy centered on the interested party asking Google to block several search links to content regarding his life, specifically referring to an offense committed against the tax authorities, for which he was eventually pardoned.

Although the events date back to 1991, the judgment was only pronounced in 2003 and the reprieve was published in the Official Gazette of the Spanish State in 2009. Given the circumstances of the case, Google rejected the request for the links to be blocked. The interested party filed a claim through civil proceedings for illegitimate intrusion into his rights to personal data protection, and to personal and family privacy, honor, and self-image. As well as requesting the contents to be blocked, he claimed compensation for damages. Both the first-instance and the appeal court rejected the claim.

The claimant appealed in cassation, alleging that the Provincial Court of Appeal’s ruling infringed the SC’s doctrine on the definition of “public figure.” The SC rejected the appeal, considering that it did not follow the ratio decidendi of the appealed judgment. The SC underlines that the Provincial Court of Appeal assessed the facts on a juridical basis, following constitutional case law and the SC’s own doctrine. The SC took into account the observations in the appealed judgment, which indicated that the appellant at that time had taken the matter to the Tax Fraud Investigation Commission set up by the parliament of Catalonia, and that the commission and the names of those who filed the complaint unquestionably aroused great interest and sparked widespread media coverage. It also stated that the matter investigated by the commission was of public and general interest. The appealed judgment therefore construed that the interested party could be considered a public figure. The Provincial Court of Appeal further highlighted that the claimant’s name appeared on the Falciani list, which also put him in the limelight.

The SC order is in line with previous case law, particularly the Supreme Court Judgment of October 15, 2015, in which the SC declared that the right to be forgotten does not allow people to rewrite their past to suit their own purposes.

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