Susan Kootnekoff is the founder of Inspire Law, an Okanagan based-law practice. She has been practicing law since 1994, with brief stints away to begin raising children. Susan has experience in many areas of law, but is most drawn to areas in which she can make a positive difference in people’s lives, including employment law. She has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta since 1994 and a member of the Law Society of British Columbia since 2015. Susan grew up in Saskatchewan. Her parents were both entrepreneurs, and her father was also a union leader who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of workers. Before moving to B.C., Susan practiced law in both Calgary and Fort McMurray, AB. Living and practicing law in Fort McMurray made a lasting impression on Susan. It was in this isolated and unique community that her interest in employment law, and Canada’s oil sands industry, took hold. In 2013, Susan moved to the Okanagan with her family, where she currently resides. Photo: Contributed

Kootnekoff: The right to be forgotten

What is the ‘right to be forgotten’, and does it exist in Canada?

What is the “right to be forgotten”? Does it exist in Canada?

This right arises from a 2014 decision of the European Union Court of Justice, commonly referred to as the “Google Spain” decision.

The case arose from announcements published in a 1998 Spanish newspaper relating to forced sales of properties arising from social security debts. Mr. Mario Costeja Gonzalez owned one of those properties and was named in the announcement.

In 2009, he asked the newspaper to remove his name, because online searches of his name led to the announcement. He argued that the sale was completed long ago and was no longer relevant. The newspaper refused to remove it.

In 2010, he contacted Google Spain, requesting that the links to the announcements be removed from search results. The request was forwarded to Google Inc., in California.

He then complained to the Spanish Data Protection Agency. It dismissed the complaint against the newspaper, but upheld it against both Google Spain and Google Inc. This meant Google was to remove the problematic links.

Google then appealed.

The court held that search engines are responsible for their processing of personal data which appear on web pages. They must consider and, in certain circumstances, remove links to personal information that “appear to be inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant or excessive in the light of the time that had elapsed.”

Removing links is referred to as de-indexing.

Interestingly, the court rejected Google’s argument that it was beyond the territorial scope of the EU’s laws. It held that Google Spain was a subsidiary of Google Inc. on Spanish territory and both were therefore subject to EU law.

The court held that processing data which is “inadequate, irrelevant or excessive” may not have complied with the EU Data Protection Directive (DPD) provisions regarding data quality. In cases such as this, the information and links in the list of the results must be erased. It is not necessary for the individual to show that the information was inaccurate or prejudicial.

This implicated that Europeans may now challenge a search engine that fails to de-index personal information. This could result in authorities ordering the search engine to remove the links from search results.

Google now has an online form allowing Europeans to request that search results about them be removed from European search domains. From May, 2014 until December, 2017, Google received over 2.4 million requests from Europeans to be de-indexed, or “forgotten.”

In 2017, a German court issued an injunction against Google after finding it was not doing enough to comply with the European Union’s right to be forgotten.

So, do Canadians have a “right to be forgotten”?

The Google Spain decision was based on certain provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, including those relating to respect for private and family life and protection of personal data.

It was also based on the EU Data Protection Directive (DPD). The DPD allowed an individual to object to data processing based “compelling legitimate grounds relating to his particular situation.”

While these provisions differ in some ways from Canadian privacy laws, the underlying spirit of our laws is similar. This is all the more so when we consider our privacy laws in light of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Some Canadian court decisions suggest that it may not be long before our courts expressly confirm that Canadians too have a right to be forgotten on line.

The content of this article is intended to provide very general thoughts and general information, not to provide legal advice. Specialist advice from a qualified legal professional should be sought about your specific circumstances.

If you would like to reach us, we may be reached through our website, at www.inspirelaw.ca.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna RCMP looking for witnesses following wallet theft

The woman was walking along McCurdy Road when she was pushed down by a passing male

Former Hells Angels associate in Kelowna court on gun, drug charges

Former Hells Angels associate Dale Habib appears in Kelowna court

Penticton, Vernon hockey legends to be inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

Vernon’s Eric Brewer and a record-breaking Penticton Vees team will join the HOF July 24

Snowed In Comedy Tour returns to Kelowna in February

Canada’s biggest comedy tour makes a stop at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Feb. 8

UBCO names Ian Cull as first senior advisor on Indigenous affairs

Cull is a member of the Dokis First Nation in Ontario

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

First-place Canucks beat Blues 3-1 for ninth straight home win

Miller nets pair as Vancouver defeats Cup champs

Swapping grape varieties can help winemakers adapt to climate change: UBC study

Report says 56% of wine-grape-growing regions would be lost if global climate warms by 2 C

Alberta premier wants feds to approve Teck mine for benefit of First Nations

Kenney: ‘Surely [reconciliation] means saying yes to economic development for First Nations people’

Quintet jazzes it up with Okanagan-wide talents

Justin Glibbery group brings twist of jazz and pop

Trans-Canada closed east of Golden due to avalanche hazard

The highway is estimated to reopen around 7 p.m.

Penticton Indian Band stands in solidarity with the Wet’suwet’en

“We’ve lived in this area for 10,000 years, and our knowledge is being disregarded…” - Chad Eneas.

NDP suggests easing secondary housing rules for B.C. farmland

Lana Popham proposes guest homes not just for relatives

After four sexual assaults in the same B.C. park, RCMP ask women not to walk alone

Four sexual assaults took place in Glen Park over two months

Most Read