07 Mar 2019

More hope under a Right to be Forgotten

Doctor right to be forgotten

Google is not the sole decision makers of whether you can have information about you removed from the internet

In a recent court case, a Dutch Surgeon that had been initially suspended by the disciplinary panel because of her postoperative care of a patient, was refused by Google with her right to be forgotten application but the argument was that she had had her suspension lifted after an appeal, to a conditional suspension, which meant that she was allowed to continue to practise.

The court heard that people had found her name on a medical blacklist via Google and it was being discussed on a web forum.

Google argued that people wanted to know if doctors had been disciplined and they have difficulty finding out the information from the register but the judge said that it was a perfectly easy system to find out any information.

Google and the Dutch data privacy watchdog initially rejected attempts to have the links removed on the basis that the doctor was still on probation and the information remained relevant.

The judge said that while the information on the website with reference to the failings of the doctor in 2014 was correct, the pejorative name of the blacklist site that her name was linked to, if you typed her name into Google, suggested she was unfit to treat people.
The discipline committee is all about correcting the doctor’s mistake, so that they can do the job next time. It isn’t meant to be a punishment.

The surgeon has now won the case in the courts to remove search results from Google in a landmark right to be forgotten case.

The surgeon’s lawyer, Willem van Lynden, from the Amsterdam firm MediaMaze, said the ruling was groundbreaking in ensuring doctors would no longer be judged by Google on their fitness to practise. Google has always had the authority over what should be kept on the internet, even overriding a medical disciplinary panel, so this is great news!

Ruling will ensure doctors are no longer judged by Google on whether they are fit to practise

“Now they will have to bring down thousands of pages: that is what will happen, in my view.” said Mr. van Lynden.

“Google have decided whether to take a page down before now and why do they have that position?” he said.

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